AFL 3 years ago

Whose AFL youngsters would you rather: St Kilda, Adelaide or Port Adelaide?

  • Whose AFL youngsters would you rather: St Kilda, Adelaide or Port Adelaide?
  • Whose AFL youngsters would you rather: St Kilda, Adelaide or Port Adelaide?
The young guns on the lists of The Western Bulldogs, Collingwood and Melbourne have all been analyzed, and now it is Adelaide, St Kilda and Port Adelaide's turn.

The 2015 22Under22 squad generated a lot of discussion and excitement regarding the young crop of talent we have rising through the ranks in the AFL competition.

So that brings me to the question of...Whose AFL youngsters would you rather?

St Kilda's, Adelaide's or Port Adelaide's?


St Kilda

Over the past few years, the St Kilda football club has had one plan: draft kids and play kids. Their youth policy has seen them stock up on draft picks through saying goodbye to club veterans like Brendon Goddard and Nick Dal Santo, as well as trading out key players, Ben McEvoy and Rhys Stanley.

In terms of the 2015 22Under22 squad, St Kilda were only represented twice; with Billy Longer and Jack Newnes making the final 22. However, that does not do justice to the array of young talent the Saints have at their disposal.

Other than the Western Bulldogs, the Saints were the AFL's most exciting story of 2015. Through their youth policy, the Saints rediscovered the passion, the energy and the excitement it takes to brings fans into the stadiums, and win games of football.

There are only 11 St Kilda players right now who are 25 years and older. I'll start with the promising 19-year-olds and work my way up.

After selecting Nick Riewoldt and Brendon Goddard with their first ever two number one picks in the AFL Draft, the Saints added key position player, Paddy McCartin to their list by selecting him first overall in the 2014 Draft. McCartin - only 19 years of age - played 6 games in his debut year. Whilst some felt he was a little underwhelming compared to other first-year players, McCartin has the best mentor of all - his captain and Saints superstar forward, Nick Riewoldt - to guide him and develop him for years to come.

Hugh Goddard, Jack Lonie and Daniel McKenzie are other 19-year-old Saints who showed glimpses in 2015 that they would have long careers in the red, black and white.

The 20 year olds Saints is a very exciting group. There's the newly acquired midfielder, Nathan Freeman, who crossed over from the Pies after two injury-prone years. Eli Templeton and Blake Acres are other Saints youngsters who are yet to find any consistency at the senior level to begin their career. But the excitement is unlimited when it comes to Jack Billings, Luke Dunstan and Jack Sinclair - all of whom have had very promising and inspiring starts to their careers.

St Kilda's 21-year olds need a big 2016 season, otherwise they may risk not being on the list by the end of next year. Tim Membrey is the most promising player out of that group.

Every 22-year-old on St Kilda's list has made an impact in their first few seasons with the club. Jack Newnes, Seb Ross, Billy Longer and Jimmy Webster are key pieces in St Kilda's senior squad.

At 23 years of age, St Kilda have found two great imports via the trade table. There's Josh Bruce, who lit St Kilda's forward line alight in 2015, and Mav Weller, who seems to have reinvigorated his career at his new club.

Remarkably, Shane Savage, Dylan Roberton, Tom Hickey and Jake Carlisle are still only 24 years of age. All four are key to St Kilda's rise up the table in 2016. St Kilda got their man in the off-season, but so far, Carlisle's tenure with the Saints has been controversial and played out in the newspapers. Will Carlisle be the difference maker for the Saints in 2016?

So there you have it. Almost three quarters of the Saints lists is players aged 24 and under. And don't forget about Saints superstar Jack Steven, who is only 25 years of age and only just entering the peak of his powers.


 

Adelaide

The Adelaide Crows were the feel good story of the 2015 AFL Finals after dealing with tragic and unprecedented circumstances throughout the season.

The Crows edged out another young, exciting and up and coming team in the first final - The Western Bulldogs - before bowing out to the eventual premiers, Hawthorn in the semi-finals.

The 22Under22 squad brought attention to some of Adelaide's most exciting youngsters, as the club was represented three times. Jake Lever, Charlie Cameron and Rory Laird were the players rewarded for an outstanding 2015 season.

Midfielder Scott Thompson is the club's oldest player at 32 years of age. The Crows have a wonderful mix of experience and youth, with an abundance of talent in between.

We will look at those players 24 and under, but here is a few names for Adelaide fans to salivate over who are in their peak right now. Taylor Walker, Tom Lynch, Rory Sloane are still only 25. Whilst Matthew Jaensch, Kyle Cheney, Andy Ottens and Josh Jenkins are 26.

Anyway, back to the youngsters.

At 19 years old, the Crows have their prized possession and key defender, Jake Lever. Lever had a great debut season, and ranked highly in many categories amongst the Rising Stars of 2015. The other well known 19 year old is Dean Gore, who despite hasn't played an AFL game yet - will always be remembered as the player who was involved in the Patrick Dangerfield trade.

At 20 years of age, the Crows have an exciting bunch. There's defender Jake Kelly, Riley Knight and Matt Crouch. However, the 21 year old's will have Adelaide fans very excited for 2016. Troy Menzel - the exciting small forward from the Blues, joined the Crows in the off-season, with many experts believing Menzel will be  one the great steals at trade table if he can put some consistent performances together.

There's Brad Crouch; who has had an injury interrupted start to his AFL career, and Charlie Cameron - only 21 - who is developing beautifully into a crafty small forward. His partnership with Betts in the forward line is one to keep an eye on. And lastly, there's Rory Laird, who has blossomed into a damaging small defender for the Crows. Laird had a sensational 2015 campaign and was stiff to miss out on an All-Australian selection.

At the 22 y.o age bracket, there's the newly acquired Curtly Hampton - who will provide great attacking run off the half back line. There's also Mitch Grigg and Cameron Ellis-Yolmen, both who will be fighting for spots in Adelaide's midfield in 2016.

The 23 year olds for Adelaide are a promising group of young defenders. Paul Seedsman, this years Anzac Day Medalist, chose Adelaide over the Suns and the Kangaroos in the off-season. Seedsman, another who needs to play consistent football, will launch many of Adelaide's counter-attacks in 2016. Luke Brown, Jarryd Lyons and Brodie Smith are all also 23. Smith is an elite half back defender and will hit the 100th game milestone early in 2016.

Key defender and former All-Australian, Daniel Talia, is only 24 years of age and the key pillar of Adelaide's defense. Luke Lowden, Kyle Hartigan and Sam Shaw are all 24 as well, but those three will be competing for spots next season.

As mentioned above, Adelaide have a great age profile and a list that can compete for a finals spot. There's no surprises that Patrick Dangerfield will be a massive loss, however, if Adelaide's youngsters can step up and try to fill the void, we could be seeing some blue, red and yellow in the finals next year.

Port Adelaide

Port Adelaide arguably have the most exciting, the most prolific and the most damaging 22-year-old player in the competition. He goes by the name of Chad Wingard, and he is a superstar.

There may be some people who disagree with that statement - most notably, Western Bulldogs supporters - who have a fair argument in saying their superstar, Jake Stringer, is the best 22Under22 player in the competition.

However, the Western Bulldogs have been analysed, and it's Port's turn.

In the 22Under22 squad of 2015, Chad Wingard, Ollie Wines and Jack Hombsch were all selected. The Power are another team with a solid age profile, with forward Jay Schulz their oldest player at 30 years of age.

Port's 19 year old's are yet to register an AFL debut, whilst at 20 years of age, Karl Amon, Jarmon Impey and Sam Colquhoun are the only players to have played at the senior level. Impey, drafted with pick 21 in 2013 has developed into a solid contributor off the half back flank for the Power.

The 21-year-old group is where things get exciting for Port fans. Two words. Ollie. Wines. The starring midfielder, who is a beast at the contest will be re-energized, rejuvenated and ready to explode after injuries limited him to 13 games in 2015. Joining Ollie at 21 years of age is the creative small forward, Jake Neade, Brendan Ah Chee and Jimmy Toumpas, who will have a lot to prove after the former pick 4 was traded to the Power after a failed stint with the Demons to begin his career. Toumpas can provide great depth to Port's midfield if he gets going in 2016. 

At 22 years of age, you guessed it, the Power have their superstar Chad Wingard, who is already dominating the competition at such a young age. Wingard has played 89 games, kicked 148 goals, won a Best and Fairest and is already a two-time All-Australian player. Wingard can change a game and win a game off his own boot, and is a prolific player. And...he's only 22.

Other 22-year olds include Jack Hombsch - a Port defender who had a really good 2015 campaign, and Aaron Young - who is still looking to put consistent performances together in his 'young' career.

The 23-year-olds and 24-year olds are another solid group, headlined by running defender Jared Polec. Joining Polec is Sam Gray, John Butcher, Cam O'Shea, Jasper Pittard and Tom Jonas. Polec should return to his 2014 form after a injury crippled 2015 season, whilst the pressure will continue to mount on former high draft pick, John Butcher, if he can't figure out how to fix his inaccuracy in front of goal.

Despite this being an analysis of Port's youngsters, it's hard not to mention their awesome crop of 25-year-olds. There's newcomer and power forward Charlie Dixon, who will make a huge difference in 2016. There's hard-running midfielder Kane Mitchell, Matthew Broadbent, Hamish Harlett (who signed a big deal in the offseason to stay loyal to the Power) and last but not least, key defender, Jackson Trengrove.

The Power's list is the strongest throughout their 22-25 age bracket. However, if the Power can develop some of their real youngsters into the likes of Chad Wingard and Ollie Wines, they will have a scarily good young crop of players fighting for spots in 2016.

The Power may not have the most exciting young list compared to other teams, but it's hard to look past Ollie Wines and Chad Wingard, two of the competitions best 'under 22' players.


Final Words

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The decision is all yours...

Whose AFL youngsters would you rather - St Kilda's, Adelaide's or Port Adelaide's?

































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