With the another AFL premiership season almost upon us, I'd thought I'd bring back the ever-so controversial Top 50 AFL players today on Bulldogs Centre. I loved doing it and it recieved a lot of feedback too, some positive, some negative. That is the beauty of putting together a top 50.
Like there was last year when I did two sets of top 50s - one pre-season and one post-season, I found it so hard to settle on a top 50, but I eventually did, with many apologies to players from every club.
For those wondering what I based the top 50 on, I've blended together past successes, along with 2016 form and projected 2017 form. There might be some bias here and there for some players, but I've tried to keep it as unbias as possible.
So without further ado here are player 50-41 in the first part of a five-part series. Tomorrow will be players 40-31.
50. Tim Membrey - St. Kilda
Career Games: 30
Career Goals: 53
A special apology to Nick Riewoldt here, but I was absolutely captivated with how this man not only found and consolidated a spot in St. Kilda's forward line, but how he emerged as a massive presence down forward. Membrey found himself in the St. Kilda team in round six last year following shoulder reconstruction and kicked five goals against Melbourne. He would go on to kick 44 goals for the year including another three bags of five. Would've been pushing 60 goals if it wasn't for injury, but could have a bigger year ahead of him.
49. Dale Morris - Western Bulldogs
Career Games: 230
Career Goals: 3
I had him in the top 20 in my post-2016, such was his influence in the Bulldogs defensive half. Despite the number of injured talent finding their way back into this list, there was no way I was going to leave him out of my top 50. He's been a rock in defence for over a decade now and almost plays better when he gets older. He's a rare breed of defender that can shut down a small forward one week, and then a dangerous key forward the next week and do the job so effectively.
48. Jack Viney - Melbourne
Career Games: 70
Career Goals: 19
In 2016, Viney elevated his game to another level, averaging career-highs in disposals, clearances and contested possessions and capped off a magnificent year by winning his first ever 'Bluey' Truscott Memorial Trophy. Viney is courageous, an established possession accumulator and at 22 years of age has become an outstanding leader for this football club on the rise, this being the first year of being named the co-captain. I have no doubt he will continue to elevate his game and could potentially be an elite midfielder at the end of 2017.
47. Easton Wood - Western Bulldogs
Career Games: 107
Career Goals: 15
After breaking out in 2015, which saw him earn All-Australian honours as well as a maiden club best and fairest at the Bulldogs, Wood's 2016 campaign was hampered with injury, but still managed 20 games for the year but stood up as the captain in absence of Robert Murphy and still featured as a key ingredient to the Bulldogs' defensive structures. Despite taking noticeably less intercept marks last year as opposed to 2015, his ability to intercept mark in defence is highly rated. I expect him to bounce back barring injury.
46. Dayne Zorko - Brisbane Lions
Career Games: 101
Career Goals: 101
Dayne Zorko was Brisbane's best player by the Flemington straight last year and it showed. He led all Brisbane players in goals kicked, and was consistently putting up decent stats en route to a second best and fairest award at the Lions. On his day he's a match-winner, but if Brisbane can manage to get Dayne Beams, Tom Rockliff and Allen Christensen all fit this season, then the Brisbane vice-captain can bump his disposal averages from 23.5 per game to an elite number this year.
45. Zach Merrett - Essendon
Career Games: 59
Career Goals: 22
2017 will be an intriguing season in terms of what 2016 Crichton Medallist Zach Merrett can achieve with all of Essendon's senior stars returning to the fold. Despite the circumstances, for a guy who just turned 21 to average just under 30 disposals a match and win a club best and fairest is an incredible achievement. When you do that at such a young age, it's hard to say he's going to get better, but with the likes of Watson, Heppell and others coming back into this team, it's a scary thought that he could actually get better this year.
44. Sam Docherty - Carlton
Career Games: 70
Career Goals: 11
Since arriving at Carlton from Brisbane at the end of the 2013 season, Sam Docherty constantly found himself improving each and every year. Last year resulted in the former Lion earning his first John Nicholls Medal and was named in the All-Australian squad of 40. Docherty's run and carry from the half-back line is elite averaging 5.5 rebound 50s a game, which was the third in the league last season, he also has sure hands, averaging just under eight marks a game which was the most out of any Carlton player last season.
43. Jeremy Cameron - Greater Western Sydney
Career Games: 93
Career Goals: 236
For the third season in his five-year career, Cameron achieved a season in which he slotted 50 goals or more, what made this season all the more impressive was that he missed the first four games with suspension. A few years ago he was the only main target up forward, but now GWS have a handful of other options, but the fact that he's still able to log over 50 goals in a season in a star-studded GWS forward line should tell you that he's a star.
42. Jack Ziebell - North Melbourne
Career Games: 147
Career Goals: 90
I've always admired Jack Ziebell's physical style of footy, he finished runner-up to Robbie Tarrant in North's best and fairest count last year, and averaged career-highs in disposals and inside 50s. He was awarded captaincy ahead of this year, which I'm admittedly looking forward to, as he leads from the front and is about as tough as a two-dollar steak, and whilst it's not a knock on his predecessor Andrew Swallow, but I think he's the man to lead this team going forward as the club goes through a mini-rebuild of sorts.
41 - Patrick Cripps (Carlton)
Career Games: 44
Career Goals: 16
At 21 years of age, Patrick Cripps has become of the game's brightest stars. In his third season, Cripps has averaged career-highs in disposals (averaging 27 per game), tackles (over 6.5 per game) and led the league in clearances (Averaging a career-high of nearly nine clearances per game) in a Carlton side that is still in a rebuild. The only issue in his game is his kicking and conversion in front of goal, recording 16.27 in the past two seasons, but entering his fourth season, Cripps should continue to emerge as an elite midfielder in this competition.