AFL 9 months ago

One Year On: How Did The Bulldogs' Draft Class Of 2016 Fare In Their First Year?

  • One Year On: How Did The Bulldogs' Draft Class Of 2016 Fare In Their First Year?

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 27: Tim English of the Bulldogs handballs during the round 10 AFL match between the Western Bulldogs and the St Kilda Saints at Etihad Stadium on May 27, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

It's been almost 12 months since the Western Bulldogs brought in their four young recruits in their first draft as the premiers. For the quartet of Tim English, Patrick Lipinski, Lewis Young and Fergus Greene, it was a tough first year in the AFL for these youngsters, as they battled through the year as the the Western Bulldogs as a football side, struggled to back up their premiership heroics of 2016.

But it wasn't all doom and gloom - Three of the four players that got drafted by the Dogs last year made their AFL debut in 2017 and with this year's upcoming AFL Draft less than a week away, today on Bulldogs Centre, we are going to take a look at what has happened to all four draftees since they have arrived at the Whitten Oval nearly 12 months ago.

Fergus Greene

What I Wrote On The Night Of The Draft

This one was a complete shock to me, but the Dogs must see something in him. Greene has some elite endurance already as evident in his beep test in a draft combine this year and from all reports has a very good kick on him and a great mark for someone his size. I see him in a similar fashion to what I saw with the Bulldogs drafting Bailey Williams late in the draft last year – didn't hear a lot about him, but when he builds on his frame, he might just make a little bit of noise in this team.

His 2017 Season In Review 

It was a very difficult and frustrating year for Fergus Greene as he struggled to get on the park for Footscray in the VFL. A foot problem hampered his pre-season preparations, but when he finally got himself on the park, he managed to do some great things. In his first VFL game he managed three goals from very limited touches and then followed that up with a bag of five goals in the 'Scray's win over Werribee. After that, he only played six more games in the VFL as a wrist injury played a huge role in why he didn't feature as much as he would've hoped in 2017.

It was always going to be a tough ask for Greene to make his senior debut in 2017 as he is still a very raw talent that will need time, but with 11 goals kicked in just 8 games in the VFL this season, it was a good step in the development of the young man from the Bendigo Pioneers Footy Factory and it will be very exciting to see what happens in season 2018.

Lewis Young

What I Wrote On The Night Of The Draft:

It was good to see the Dogs go big here with Lewis Young. Although he played the majority of 2016 in the SANFL as a key forward who can pinch-hit in the ruck, Young's athleticism means he could potentially be thrown to the other end of the ground in defence, which is a plus for the Dogs given that they lost Joel Hamling to Fremantle this year and they could potentially lose another key defender in Marcus Adams next year. He's got a lot to work on if he's to make it at AFL level, but having excellent athleticism is a good start.

His 2017 Season In Review

Not much was expected of Lewis Young heading into the 2017 season as he was expected to take time to develop into a quality key position player and not many people expected him to storm onto the AFL scene when he finally got the opportunity. For the most part of the season, Young was used in defence and with every game he played in the VFL, he improved each time and it was finally rewarded after a huge game against Sandringham, in which he took multiple intercept marks - 11 marks in total along with 24 disposals in Footscray's 49-point win over the Zebras.

Young was named for his debut in round 17 against Carlton, just a week after that incredible performance and with that, he thrived on the big stage that is the Melbourne Cricket Ground. He had 21 disposals, nine marks and looked super poised when the game was in the balance and also looked to get into the head of direct opponent Levi Casboult. He played out the rest of the season at the top level, and whilst there were a few down moments in his first seven games of his career, Lewis Young has a tremendous future ahead of him and that was evident on the night of the Western Bulldogs' best and fairest as he took home the club's best first-year player award.

Patrick Lipinski

What I Wrote On The Night Of The Draft:

I was a little surprised with this selection, because I was expecting Lipinski to go around the third round. Not a key forward, but at nearly 190 centimetres, I think he's got the potential to play tall, and his ability to take a good contested mark solidfies that, but not only that, I think he can push up the ground to become another tall midfield option. He averaged 24 possessions in his last six TAC Cup games, which underlines his midfield potential. Lipinski grew up supporting the Bulldogs and was there on the day the Doggies won their second historic premiership, so one could say this would be a match made in heaven.

His 2017 Season In Review

A very difficult year from the Dogs' second round selection of last year, but in my eyes this will be one of a few to look out for next year. Lipinski had a great senior debut in the VFL, kicking four goals from 17 touches as Footscray defeated Box Hill, but then tragedy struck a week later, as he damaged his collarbone in their win over Werribee, and as a result, he was forced to miss the next six weeks as he underwent surgery on his shoulder. 

A Hamstring injury also threatened to derail his 2017 season, before a couple of outstanding games late in the year - one of those including a huge 33 disposal game against Essendon - He was listed for his debut in the final round of the 2017 home and away season. In a match that saw Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs farewell a trio of club legends, Lipinski was the 1000th Bulldog to make his debut, and showed glimpses of what he was capable of, recording 18 disposals and four marks, and could've potentially kicked a bag of goals, but ended up with three behinds for the evening. This performance showed me that he has all the tools to be a very dangerous forward within a few years.

Tim English

What I Wrote On The Night Of The Draft:

A lot of people were expecting WA-based product Tim English to go in the top 10 of the draft, but because a lot of recruiters are sceptical about drafting ruckmen so early, he was one of the biggest sliders of the draft, but the Bulldogs didn't hesitate to snap him up when they went on the clock with their first-round selection. The biggest concern in the Bulldogs list is the lack of ruck options, so by drafting English, who's considered by many as the best ruckman in this years draft, is another win for Simon Dalrymple and the recruiting team.

What's even better with this selection is that English can virtually play as another midfielder. He's got the mobility to cover the ground and for a man his size, has got exceptional skills by foot. I don't expect him to play right away as he needs to work on building his slender frame, but a lot of Western Australians have compared him to a legendary Eagles' ruckman in Dean Cox. I'm not entirely sure about the comparison, but he could very well be the steal of the draft in about five years time.

His 2017 Season In Review

We need to be real for just one moment here, Tim English is not a player that will impact right away. Those that don't believe that, need to have a closer look about how the game of AFL is being played. Despite the huge flaw that is his slim physique, English still managed a taste of senior action in 2017, making his debut in round 10 against St. Kilda and showed signs that he will be a very good player when he finally develops his frame. In the two games that he played this year, English displayed those amazing foot skills and ability to pick up the footy at ground level that had many draft experts raving about him in the lead-up to last year's draft.

There were times throughout the year that he was absolutely monstered in the ruck in the VFL and he struggled to win hitouts in the ruck in his two games in the AFL, but the Bulldogs are that happy about him that he signed a two-year contract extension back in April, meaning that English won't be out of contract until 2020, which shows a huge amount of faith that the Western Bulldogs have put in him. At the start of the year I wrote about why I believed Tim English could be the next superstar ruckman of the AFL, but Bulldog fans will need patience as he needs the time to develop, like all big men do, and given that he is reportedly loving life in Melbourne, It won't surprise me to see English stay at the Bulldogs for a long time to come.

With The 2017 AFL Draft On Friday, Bulldogs Centre Will Present Their Mock Draft On Wednesday. You Won't Want To Miss This

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