In the lead up to the 2017 season, we will be assessing each club’s list and naming our best 22 for round one. Working our way up the ladder; following the analysis of Collingwood, the next cab off the rank is Melbourne.
Zero Hanger 2017 ladder prediction: 8th
2016 was the season Melbourne finally started to climb up the ladder and the club's fans are feeling bullish for this season, and so they should be. The Demons did what they needed to in the off-season, re-signing Jesse Hogan and bringing in two experienced players in Michael Hibberd and Jordan Lewis. Hibberd brings the run off half-back they sorely need, while Lewis is another leader Simon Goodwin can rely on.
The Melbourne forward line is fast becoming one of the most formidable in the competition. Jack Watts showed in the second half of last season what he can do, hopefully he finally has the confidence in himself to take the season by storm. Judging by his pre-season hair style I'm guessing he does. Hogan should be back to his best after his contract has been settled, while Sam Weideman showed enough last year to suggest after anothe rpre-season under his belt, he could earn a spot in the side's best 22. Keep an eye out for Mitch Hannan, he is an excitement machine picked up from Footscray's VFL side and he should debut early in the year.
The addition of Jordan Lewis now means this side has an abundance of leadership on the park. In collaboration with Nathan Jones, Bernie Vince, Jack Viney and Max Gawn, they should be able stop the lapses in concentration that have plagued Melbourne over the past few seasons.
— Melbourne FC (@melbournefc) February 1, 2017
With the departure of Lynden Dunn there is no longer a lot of depth in the key defender stocks. Both Sam Frost and Oscar McDonald pushed themselves ahead of Colin Garland in the pecking order, however, they are both young and still learning their trade in defence. Opposition coaches would consider them the weak link in Melbourne's defence, there could be trouble if they have to play on a Tom Lynch or Josh Kennedy.
Although the new additions to the side add experience and on the whole this Melbourne team is very young, but full of talent. Melbourne was the second youngest side in the competition last season, but will move up in those rankings this year. Traditionally an experienced list is needed to seriously impact this competition, but Luke Beveridge and the Western Bulldogs showed last year that young sides can have also have a huge impact.
Projected Melbourne 2017 round one best 22:
FB: Tomas Bugg, Tom McDonald, Neville Jetta
HB: Michael Hibberd, Oscar McDonald, Christian Salem
C: Dom Tyson, Nathan Jones, Bernie Vince
HF: Christian Petracca, Jack Watts, Dean Kent
FF: Jeff Garlett, Jesse Hogan, Sam Weideman
FOL: Max Gawn, Jordan Lewis, Jack Viney
I/C: Clayton Oliver, Angus Brayshaw, Jayden Hunt, Jake Melksham
EMG: Billy Stretch, Sam Frost, Mitch Hannan.