AFL 10 months ago

Alex Docherty's Top 50 AFL Players Post-2017 Part 3: 30-21

  • Alex Docherty's Top 50 AFL Players Post-2017 Part 3: 30-21

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 14: Ben Brown of the Kangaroos celebrates after kicking a goal during the round four AFL match between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium on April 14, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Today on Bulldogs Centre, we are set to run over the half-way point of my top 50 players of 2017, we acknowledge a few very talented players who are quite unlucky not to crack the top 20, as we run through the players ranked 30-21.

In case you have just joined us or that you didn't get to read the spots from spots 50-31, you may find the links to these positions down below:

Part One - Players 50-41
Part Two - Players 40-31

If you have followed through, let's get through the third part of this five-part series as we name players 30-21.

30. Callan Ward – Greater Western Sydney
Pre-Season Ranking: 37
Career Games: 192
Career Goals: 99

If Callan Ward was still playing for a Victorian club, he would be highly regarded as one of the game's best midfielders. For the third-straight year, the Giant's co-captain played every game for GWS, and averaged a career-high 27 disposals per game, as well as averaging six clearances, four tackles, four marks, four inside 50s to finish in the top-two in GWS' best and fairest count – one of the hardest midfielders in the game today.

29. Jack Macrae – Western Bulldogs
Pre-Season Ranking: N/A
Career Games: 99
Career Goals: 21

Macrae backed up his 2016 season with an equally solid 2017 and is one player that gets overlooked way too easily for my liking. He played every game for the first time in his career this year and for the second-straight year he averaged 27 disposals per game along side a career-best six tackles per game as well as averages of four clearances, four marks and three inside 50s per game. He was rewarded for his consistency with a top-three finish in the Western Bulldogs' best and fairest count.

28. Jeremy Howe – Collingwood
Pre-Season Ranking: N/A
Career Games: 141
Career Goals: 86

For such a long time in Jeremy Howe's career, I've always thought of him as a 'one-trick pony' who could only do spectacular grabs and that's about it. Not anymore as Howe has become one of the games most exceptional intercept defenders. In 2017, Howe achieved career high averages in disposals (21 per game), marks (nearly nine per game) and rebound 50s (four per game) and was named in the All-Australian squad of 40. Very unlucky not to get a spot in the team, but finished in the top five in Collingwood's best and fairest.

27. Sam Jacobs – Adelaide
Pre-Season Ranking: N/A
Career Games: 174
Career Goals: 45

Played a very important role as Adelaide's first-choice ruckman in 2017, averaging a career-high 40 hitouts per game this season, including a personal-best 74 hitouts in round eight. He also showed throughout the year his worth around the ground, averaging 14 disposals, four marks, three clearances and three tackles per game. Finished fourth in Adelaide's best and fairest and was named in the All-Australian squad of 40 but lost out to another star ruckman in Port Adelaide's Paddy Ryder.

26. Rory Sloane – Adelaide
Pre-Season Ranking: 14
Career Games: 165
Career Goals: 106

12 months ago, Rory Sloane was a top-10 player, and in the eyes of some, he's still highly considered as one. Season 2017 proved to be another solid year for him, averaging 24 disposals, eight tackles, six clearances, four inside 50s and nearly averaging a goal per game, but what has caused him to slide down as far as 26 is that he gets tagged out of games, he was kept under 20 disposals in six of the 22 home and away games that he played, and his Finals series was solid, averaging 20 disposals and just under seven clearances per game.

25. Clayton Oliver – Melbourne
Pre-Season Ranking: N/A
Career Games: 35
Career Goals: 10

When was the last time you heard of a 20-year old lad average 30 disposals per game? Clayton Oliver had himself a 2017 season to remember and has set the stage for a stellar career ahead. As well as averaging 30 disposals, Oliver also averaged seven tackles, seven clearances and three inside 50s per game as well as averaging 15 contested possessions per game. People will complain that he handballs too much (22 handballs per game) and that he is a 'stager', but he's only very young in his career and I have no doubt he will blossom into a star of the game.

24. Nat Fyfe – Fremantle
Pre-Season Ranking: 1
Career Games: 138
Career Goals: 121

It must be remembered that this man was a Brownlow Medallist two years ago. Last year a broken leg ruined his season, and this season, in amidst a Fremantle side that is an utter shambles, Fyfe's 2017 was solid, playing all but one game and averaging 26 disposals, six clearances, four marks, four tackles and almost a goal a game. His averages compared to his Brownlow year were unsurprisingly down, but his influences in games started to emerge as the season progressed. He'll be one to watch in 2018.

23. Dylan Shiel – Greater Western Sydney
Pre-Season Ranking: 31
Career Games: 112
Career Goals: 58

Another big year from Dylan Shiel who is quickly gaining recognition as a complete midfielder – one that can win the ball both in contested spaces and on the outside. Shiel was incredibly consistent all year long, and averaged 25-plus disposals per game for the third-straight year, averaging 26, six clearances, four inside 50s and four tackles per game and managed to play every game with his dodgy shoulders and was rewarded accordingly with a spot in the All-Australian team.

22. Robbie Gray – Port Adelaide
Pre-Season Ranking: 16
Career Games: 178
Career Goals: 258

Season 2017 saw Robbie Gray make the change from gun midfielder to a starring role as a small forward and with this change in roles saw Gray kick a personal-best 47 goals for the season from averages of 19 disposals, four marks, three clearances and three inside 50s per game. Despite finishing just outside the top three in Port's best and fairest count, Gray was rewarded for his great year up forward with a spot in the All-Australian team and could seriously challenge for a 60-goal season in 2018.

21. Ben Brown - North Melbourne
Pre-Season Ranking: N/A
Career Games: 77
Career Goals: 154

Perhaps the one bloke in this list that is very stiff not to be in the top 20, but Ben Brown has had a very outstanding year for a side that won only six games for the season. Brown kicked 63.20 from 15 disposals, five marks and two contested marks per game in a breakout year North this year, which included a bag of seven in their final game of the year against Brisbane and bags of six against Essendon and Gold Coast. Was the only Roo named in the All-Australian squad of 40 and must be considered very, very unlucky not to be named in the final squad given what he has produced in 2017.

Thursday on Bulldogs Centre promises to be another huge installment in my top 50 players from the 2017 season, as we begin the countdown to the number one player, as we name players ranked 20-11.

Pictures Courtesy Of Getty Images

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