Let me preface this piece by saying that there is no club in the AFL that deserves a priority pick. The Lions have had their share of high picks, and they’ve lost them.
They’ve had some value in return for those picks, but it’s evident that it’s the Lions’ own fault that they cannot develop these players and keep them.
Brisbane won seven games last year and looked to be on the up, bringing in Dayne Beams, Allen Christensen and Mitch Robinson.
The Lions might only have four top 20 picks left, but who can they blame but themselves for losing all of them?
They’ve clearly got a losing culture, but their best way to get out of that rut was to sell the players on building around their young core, like the Bulldogs have.
It’s likely they will end up with Josh Schache – their great white hope – at the end of this year. They’ll also end up with Eric Hipwood, a 200 cm key position player with terrific speed. Ben Keays is another midfielder they’ll add, who is in with a real shot of winning the Rising Star award next year if all goes well.
The Lions actually have a decent list to work with, all things considered.
High end talent: Allen Christensen, Stefan Martin, Tom Rockliff, Jack Redden, Pearce Hanley, Jed Adcock, Dayne Zorko and Daniel Rich.
Emerging talents: Harris Andrews, Lewis Taylor, Dan McStay, Tom Cutler, Sam Mayes, Jaden McGrath, Darcy Gardiner, Marco Paparone and Nick Robertson.
Trade bait: Matthew Leuenberger, James Aish, Mitch Golby, Josh Green.
Their role players are okay too. This team has obviously shouldered a large injury load, but they should be better than what they are. It’s a development issue.
We’ve seen Billy Longer, Elliot Yeo, Sam Docherty and Jared Polec all excel at their new clubs, yet all those teams are in the same part of the ladder – besides the Eagles – as the Lions.
The Lions will likely lose James Aish. His value on the open market is much lower than his talent level. Indeed, two years ago, it looked to be an absolute steal when the Lions picked him up at pick seven. But he’s done absolutely nothing for the Lions, and it’s their own fault that they couldn’t develop him.
Matthew Leuenberger is a decent ruckman, and he’s got plenty of value. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Lions to execute a like-for-like deal. Someone like Tom Bellchambers, who can play as a second ruck and an established forward option, would be just about the same value.
Both teams would then get what they need. It would see the Bombers getting someone who is a bonafide first ruckman, and the Lions getting someone who can help up forward, but also fits in well alongside Martin.
The Lions cannot look at their list and say that they’ll only have two top 20 selections left on their list, because they’ve had those guys and couldn’t get things to work out.
They must change their attitude. They are in serious debt, and perhaps it would be too costly to bring in new assistant coaches. But they’ve got to at least try, instead of simply requesting a priority pick.
Priority picks should not come back into the fold, no matter what the situation.