Adelaide Crows

Premiership Odds: $21

Prediction: 11th

Adelaide battled hard to get to the semi-finals last season and while that was such a gallant effort, changes have occurred during the off-season and 2016 is going to be difficult.

No matter what people say, losing Patrick Dangerfield is going to hurt them big time. You’re literally taking the second-best player in the competition out of the side and losing all that quality.

Dangerfield didn’t represent Adelaide as a whole and there are plenty of quality players still at the club, however, combine the loss of Dangerfield with a new coach, the Crows will drop out of the eight this season.

It should only be a momentarily stint in the bottom ten, as the Crows have too much quality to spend years and years away from finals footy.

Key Ins: 

Curtly Hampton, Dean Gore, Paul Seedsman, Troy Menzel

Key Outs:

Patrick Dangerfield, Sam Kerridge

Key Player: Taylor Walker

Walker has silenced those critics who doubted his ability to lead the Crows when announced as captain at the beginning of last season.

Tex ranked second in the entire league in marks inside 50, third for total marks and fourth for most goals averaging two a game. Walker has solidified his spot as Adelaide’s leader and will look to improve on what was a stellar 2015.

Walker has the ability to lift in big matches, and that’ll definitely come in handy for the Crow throughout 2016 as they look to avoid a repeat of 2014, where they finished 10th.

Rising Star: Charlie Cameron

An electrifying small forward, Cameron put his name on the AFL map last season as he confirmed his status as the Crows’ top draft selection in 2013.

Cameron’s innate ability to explode out of a pack and use his pace and athleticism mirrors that of his teammate Betts.

Cameron is a headache for opposing teams in front of goal, as he finished first among rising stars in goal assists and third among rising stars in goals last season.

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He exploded onto the scene last year and there is no reason to believe he won’t be better in years to come.

Under the Pump: Nathan van Berlo

A former Crows captain boasting more than 200 games, van Berlo’s days as an AFL superstar are long gone.

But 2016 looms large for the career of the Adelaide veteran.

Van Berlo wasn’t horrible in 2015, averaging 15 disposals in 20 games, but with the Crows bringing in a crop of younger midfield talent, he may need to find something special in 2016 if he wants to secure his place in the squad’s best 22 for an entire season.

Coming off shoulder surgery in the off-season, van Berlo should be able to get almost a full pre-season under his belt as he heads into a crucial 2016 season.

Weakness: Depth in ruckmen

The Crows rank second in contested possessions and fourth in clearances which reflects their top-end midfield talent, but just as importantly outlines the value of Jacobs.

Cast off by Carlton, Jacobs quietly goes about his business as one of the league’s very best ruckmen. He features among the league leaders in possessions and hitouts for ruckmen and remains one of the more consistent players in the AFL.

Without him, Adelaide are in massive strife and it highlights their lack of depth in this particular position.

Can Josh Jenkins or Walker provide adequate cover for Jacobs or do they turn to their rookies?

Its a problem Adelaide may need to address throughout the year if Jacobs doesn’t hit form or goes down with injury.

Strength: Small forwards

Their strength could perhaps be their entire forward line, but I’ve gone with their small forwards as I see them as some of the best in the game.

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Eddie Betts is arguably the league’s best small forward despite not having the profile and hype of some others including Cyril Rioli.

Betts kicked 63 goals to rank second in the competition in 2015, a remarkable return for a player seen as inconsistent in his time at Carlton.

Add Charlie Cameron along with Troy Menzel who can also crum and Adelaide have an incredibly dangerous forward line once the ball hits the deck.

Adelaide’s forward line is one of the most dynamic in the AFL and will need to be at its best if Adelaide have any chance of repeating last season’s success.

What the fixture looks like: Tough

Playing at one of the most impressive home venues in the league, the Crows will need every bit of that advantage with a brutal 2016 draw ahead.

Two matches against Fremantle, West Coast, North Melbourne, Geelong and Port Adelaide are as difficult an assignment as any team has.

Adelaide play six of last season’s finalists in the first seven rounds with arch rivals Port Adelaide being the seventh team.

Facing North, Port, Richmond and Sydney in the first four weeks and Fremantle (in Perth), Port and the Eagles in the last three games poses challenging bookends to the season; the draw opens up in between the start and finish will dictate where the Crows finish among mid-table teams.

Best 22

B: Ricky Henderson, Daniel Talia, Luke Brown

HB: Brodie Smith, Kyle Hartigan, Rory Laird

C: David Mackay, Scott Thompson, Richard Douglas

HF: Riley Knight, Josh Jenkins, Tom Lynch

F: Eddie Betts, Taylor Walker, Charlie Cameron

R: Sam Jacobs, Rory Sloane, Brad Crouch

I: Troy Menzel, Andy Otten, Matthew Jaensch, Matt Crouch