The Bombers are facing a serious problem, as clubs begin to circle Paddy Ryder and Jake Carlisle.
The Bombers’ major problem in season 2014 was kicking a winning score, with the losses of Stewart Crameri and Angus Monfries over the last two seasons hitting harder than expected.
Essendon’s goal kicking chart was deplorable for a top eight team.
Joe Daniher lead the team with 28 goals, despite being a second year forward and struggling with goal kicking. Jake Carlisle was second with 27 goals, and if you take away his eight goal haul, he really struggled to impact the scoreboard. Paul Chapman kicked 22 goals in a very solid return, and Paddy Ryder kicked 20. No other Bomber kicked more than 17 despite those five relatively low returns.
It seems likely that Ryder will leave: to be aggressive, Essendon must have a serious crack at Matthew Leuenberger. They cannot be passive this trade period, and it seems logical to go right back at the Lions.
If the Bombers were to lose Ryder and Carlisle, then Hird would be forced to move Michael Hurley forward. Hurley had his best season by far as a key backman, and after several mediocre years up forward, it’s clear that Hurley should only go forward as the occasional swingman.
Tom Bellchambers is a proven goal kicker, but his ankle worries forced him into a really difficult year. Even at the end of the season, Bellchambers seemed to have trouble moving around the ground.
So what can the Bombers do? Hird should and will throw serious money at Mitch Clark, but with so many more suitable options, Clark is almost certain to avoid the Bombers.
A capable forward/ruckman would be ideal. Luke Lowden has runs on the board and looks surplus to the Hawks depth. The Bombers do have a high success rate when picking mature aged recruits from the VFL, but standouts are few and far between this year.
Jeff Garlett could work well under Daniher’s feet, and the Bombers have plenty of ideal trade pieces for the Carlton crumber.
With pick 19 in the draft, the Bombers could do well to pick up Reece McKenzie, Hugh Goddard or Tyler Kietel, provided they were still available. However, the pressure on a first year player to kick more than 20 goals could have the potential to ruin a talent.