The Essendon Bombers will be glad that the 2016 season is finally behind them and will be itching to get the 2017 AFL season started.
In: Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (rookie upgrade), Connor McKenna (rookie upgrade), James Stewart, James Kelly, Matt Dea, Josh Green, Andrew McGrath (pick 1), Jordan Ridley (22), Josh Begley (31), Kobe Mutch (42), Dylan Clarke (63), Sam Draper (rookie)
Out: Adam Cooney (retired), James Gwilt (delisted), Jason Ashby (delisted), Shaun Edwards (delisted), Tom Wallis (delisted), Nick Kommer (delisted), Yestin Eades (delisted), Courtenay Dempsey (delisted), Will Hams (delisted), Gach Nyuon (delisted), Michael Hibberd (traded – Melbourne), Ryan Crowley, Jonathan Simpkin, James Polkinghorne, Sam Grimley, Nathan Grima, Sam Michael
Best 25 for the 2017 Season
B: Mark Baguley, Matt Dea, Patrick Ambrose
HB: Andrew McGrath, Michael Hurley, Brendon Goddard
C: Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, Dyson Heppell, Brent Stanton
HF: Darcy Parish, Cale Hooker, David Zaharakis
F: Orazio Fantasia, Joe Daniher, Travis Colyer
FOLL: Matthew Leuenberger, Jobe Watson, Zach Merrett
I/C: Aaron Francis, David Myers, Heath Hocking, James Kelly
EMG: Ben Howlett, Mitch Brown, Tom Bellchambers
The Gun – Zachary Merrett
Zachary was outstanding for the Bombers in 2016 and I expect to see that form continue in 2017. With more midfield depth added to the Bombers in 2017, I would expect Zachary to get more protection and more freedom. This will help him improve on his disposal count and push forward in 2017.
Fantasy Stud – Dyson Heppell
The new captain of the Bombers will be keen for a big 2017. I expect him to be a little bit rusty at the start of the year but will be very strong towards the pointy end. Having a year off will be good for his young body and I expect Heppell to be back bigger and better in 2017.
Comeback Player – Jobe Watson
This might be Jobe’s last year of AFL football and he will want to go out with a bang. Jobe only player 12 games in 2015 and was below his best. With a full preseason under his belt and a year to get his body right, I could see Watson be one of the leagues best in 2017.
Player to watch – Aaron Francis
Aaron will be given plenty of opportunity to prove he was worth pick 6 in the 2015 draft. He is a player that can provide plenty of run and dash off the Bombers half back line and a player the Bombers build their side around.
New Recruit – Andrew McGrath
The number 1 draft pick in the 2016 draft will be looking to make an instant impact at his new club. The club will carefully manage his load in the first year but still expect to see him lay 8-10 games this year.
Needs to Find Another Level – David Zaharakis
David was serviceable for the Bombers last year but will find opportunity limited in 2017. I expect his disposal count to decrease as the Bombers get their star studded midfield back. David will revert back to his half forward role and will slowly just decline in value.
2017 Crystal Ball – Ladder Prediction
The Bombers fans should be happy with what they see in 2017. The club has found a few mature players in 2016 that will only complement their young list. How the suspended players cope with a full AFL season after a year out will go a long way towards their fortune in 2017.
Predicted Finish: 13th
6 Wins -16 Losses