AFL 2 years ago

Alex Docherty's Top 50 AFL Players Post-2016 Part 5: The Final Countdown

  • Alex Docherty's Top 50 AFL Players Post-2016 Part 5: The Final Countdown

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 01: Josh Kennedy of the Swans gathers the ball during the 2016 AFL Grand Final match between the Sydney Swans and the Western Bulldogs at Melbourne Cricket Ground on October 1, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Well, we've finally arrived at the tail-end of the top 50 AFL players of the 2016 season - the top 10.

It wasn't easy to settle on a top 10. Over the past couple of weeks, I found myself cutting one player and putting another in, but I eventually settled on the 10 guys who I believe have influenced the game the most.

Before I get started on revealing the top 10, just a quick recap on who's already made the top 50:

Part One:
Part Two:
Part Three:
Part Four:

50. Jason Johannisen (Western Bulldogs)
49. Dayne Zorko (Brisbane)
48. Jack Viney (Melbourne)
47. Luke Dahlhaus (Western Bulldogs)
46. Lachie Hunter (Western Bulldogs)
45. Robbie Tarrant (North Melbourne)
44. Josh Jenkins (Adelaide)
43. Kade Simpson (Carlton)
42. Matt Priddis (West Coast)
41. Corey Enright (Geelong)
40. Callan Ward (GWS)
39. Jack Macrae (Western Bulldogs)
38. Rory Laird (Adelaide)
37. Sam Docherty (Carlton)
36. Nick Riewoldt (St. Kilda)
35. Andrew Gaff (West Coast)
34. Stephen Coniglio (GWS)
33. Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn/West Coast)
32. Patrick Cripps (Carlton)
31. Daniel Talia (Adelaide)
30. Luke Shuey (West Coast)
29. Liam Picken (Western Bulldogs)
28. Cyril Rioli (Hawthorn)
27. Matthew Boyd (Western Bulldogs)
26. Adam Treloar (Collingwood)
25. Jack Steven (St. Kilda)
24. Heath Shaw (GWS)
23. Jeremy McGovern (West Coast)
22. Dane Rampe (Sydney)
21. Toby Greene (GWS)
20. Zach Merrett (Essendon)
19. Dale Morris (Western Bulldogs)
18. Dylan Shiel (GWS)
17. Lachie Neale (Fremantle)
16. Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood)
15. Robbie Gray (Port Adelaide)
14. Joel Selwood (Geelong)
13. Dan Hannebery (Sydney)
12. Max Gawn (Melbourne)
11. Tom Lynch (Gold Coast)

10. Luke Parker – Sydney
Pre-Season Ranking: 21

Career Games: 127
Career Goals: 103

Another incredible season from Parker, who at only 23, has established himself as one of the game's elite midfielders. Averaged 27 disposals this year, setting personal best averages in contested possessions (13.5 per game), tackles (6.5 per game) and clearances (six per game). Finished second in the Brownlow medal and was named in the All-Australian team for the first time in his career.

9. Dustin Martin – Richmond
Pre-Season Ranking: 29
Career Games: 153
Career Goals: 150

I truly believe Martin has elevated himself from a very good player to elite this year. In a season where the Tigers were abysmal, Martin was one of the few players that could hold his head high after a stunning year. Averaged a career-high 31 disposals a game from 22 games this year, as well as averages of five clearances and five inside 50s per game – both of those also career-high numbers. Capped off the year with a first-time All-Australian selection and a first-time best and fairest win at the Tigers.

8. Rory Sloane – Adelaide
Pre-Season Ranking: 37
Career Games: 141
Career Goals: 86

When Patrick Dangerfield fled Adelaide to return home to Geelong, there was an enormous amount of pressure that was put on players like Sloane to keep the Crows in finals contention. I had no doubts that Sloane would rise to the challenge, lifting his game to a career year. An All-Australian and best and fairest winner for the Crows this year, Sloane averaged a personal-best 25 disposals per game, as well as seven tackles, five clearnces and four inside 50s per game. 

7. Josh Kennedy – West Coast
Pre-Season Ranking: 16
Career Games: 188
Career Goals: 450

Although I've criticised Kennedy's game over the last few years about him being a 'flat-track bully', there's no denying he's worthy of a top 10 spot, because as a forward, he gets paid to kick goals. For the second-straight year, Kennedy has booted 80 goals or more for the Eagles, booting 82 goals this year to take out the Coleman Medal for the second consecutive year. He averaged six marks per game, three tackles per game, and nearly four marks inside 50 per game this year, which is kind of impressive for a big man such as Kennedy. 

6. Eddie Betts – Adelaide
Pre-Season Ranking: 30
Career Games: 253
Career Goals: 479

He had a pretty good 2015 campaign, but he backed it up with an even better 2016 campaign. He kicked 75 goals in 24 games, which for a small forward is extremely rare. Not only does he kick goals and win games, he has this uncanny ability to drill them from anywhere on either pocket, how many small forwards are able to do that? Eddie is one of a kind, and anyone who believes he is overrated needs to seriously re-evaluate themselves.

5. Josh Kennedy – Sydney
Pre-Season Ranking: 14
Career Games: 183
Career Goals: 115

Kennedy is perhaps one of the best inside midfielders we've seen in this modern era. Kennedy averaged career-highs in disposals (31 per game) and contested possessions (17 per game) as well as maintaining solid averages in clearances (seven per game), tackles (five per game) and inside 50s per game (five per game). Won his third best and fairest at the Swans this year, and was responsible for nearly dragging the Swans over the line in the Grand Final.

4. Alex Rance – Richmond
Pre-Season Ranking: 15
Career Games: 150
Career Goals: 8

Rance is without a doubt the best key defender going around in the AFL right now. What makes him so? Not only has he got the capabilities of shutting down his direct opponent, but he can win the ball either in the air or at ground-level and can be the one that drives it out of defence. Like Martin, Rance has been a shining star in an otherwise dismal Richmond team, averaging 18 disposals and nearly eight marks per game.

3. Marcus Bontempelli – Western Bulldogs
Pre-Season Ranking: 43
Career Games: 63
Career Goals: 58

At only 20 years of age, Marcus Bontempelli has nearly done it all. He's already a premiership player, he's a best and fairest winner and has already experienced captaining a winning team. His numbers may pale in comparison to the likes of Kennedy, Parker and Martin (averages 24 disposals, four tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s and a goal per game), It's what he does with the ball in hand is what puts people in awe. He's already proven he can win games off his own boot, I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for this young man.

2. Lance Franklin – Sydney
Pre-Season Ranking: 6
Career Games: 247
Career Goals: 787

Arguably the greatest key forward in the game today. Franklin returned to his brilliant best this year after his 2015 campaign derailed due to mental issues. He played every game this season, kicking 81 goals in 26 games, and his work up the ground didn't go unnoticed either, averaging 17 disposals, six marks and four inside 50s per game. Bulldog fans wouldn't want to imagine what could've been if he didn't roll his ankle in the Grand Final.

1. Patrick Dangerfield – Geelong
Pre-Season Ranking: 3
Career Games: 178
Career Goals: 187

There wasn't any other choice was there? Love him or hate him, Dangerfield was pretty much in a league of his own with Gary Ablett a shadow of his former self and Nathan Fyfe put on the shelf for most of the year. In his first year at his new club, Dangerfield fulfilled the lofty expectations put on him by the Geelong faithful and then some, averaging nearly 32 disposals per game, eight inside 50s per game (both career-highs), six clearances, five marks, four tackles and a goal per game. Nearly took home every award imaginable, winning Geelong's best and fairest, All-Australian honours, AFL MVP and last, but not least the Brownlow.

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