GETTING BETTER: Nic Newman gets a way from a flying Mav Weller on Saturday.
GETTING BETTER: Nic Newman gets a way from a flying Mav Weller on Saturday. Michael Willson/AFL Media

Numbers up for the AFL's most improved players

I'VE said it before and I'll say it again.

It's time the AFL introduced its own 'most improved player' award, via the league itself, or either of the players' or coaches' associations.

Have it up there on a pedestal alongside the Rising Star.

Here are the early contenders ...

DEFENDERS

DYLAN ROBERTON (StK)

The 25-year-old has benefited from the arrival of Jake Carlisle and Nathan Brown down back, freeing him up to average 25.4 disposals (up from 18.9 in 2016).

ADAM TOMLINSON (GWS)

Not only has he played every game, but only Alex Rance has spent more time on the field. The forward-turned-backman is getting the big jobs in defence.

NIC NEWMAN (Syd)

Hello Newman. Didn't play a game in his first two seasons, but the 24-year-old is another Sydney rookie revelation, plucked from Frankston. Has collected 35 and 30 disposals in the past two weeks off half back.

 

Elliot Yeo
Elliot Yeo Quinn Rooney

ELLIOT YEO (WC)

Always likened to Nat Fyfe, and is now playing like him, albeit further upfield. Average disposals are up from 16.6 to 25.5, and marks 4.2 to 9.5, with so many of them intercepts.

CALEB MARCHBANK (Carl)

One GWS did not want to lose. Happy back in Victoria, no key defender has taken more marks - averaging eight a match, up from three as a Giant.

RORY LAIRD (Adel)

Hit the ceiling with his improvement last season, but has gone through the roof, average disposals up from 27 to 33, rebounds from 3.3 to 5.2.

MIDFIELDERS

JAKE LLOYD (Syd)

It's not Josh Kennedy or Dan Hannebery leading the disposal count at Sydney, but the fleet-flooted wingman, who's averaging 30 per match (up from a career average 21).

CLAYTON OLIVER (Melb)

Still in only 19, but now sits among the league's top 10 for average disposals (jumping from 19 to 31), contested disposals (9.5 to 16.6), clearances (4 to 6.5), tackles (5 to 7.5). The biggest jump will be in Brownlow votes after three in his debut year.

BRAD HILL (Fre)

Already has three premiership medallions from his time at Hawthorn, but is in career-best form playing alongside brother Stephen at Freo, average disposals up from 17 to 25.

JARROD WITTS (GC)

Just nudges Toby Nankervis as our ruck. Moved from Collingwood, where he played just two games last season. Now top six for hit-outs and fourth among ruckmen for most disposals.

 

Josh Kelly
Josh Kelly Matt King

JOSH KELLY (GWS)

Justifying talk of nine-year-$9 million contracts, the smooth-mover has come of age, almost doubling his clearance average. Hard to believe he's still as much as $23 for the Brownlow.

SEB ROSS (StK)

Already one of the big improvers of 2016, the 24-year-old has taken his inside game to a new level, contested disposals up from 7.9 to 11.2 and clearances up from four to six.

FORWARDS

JACK BILLINGS (StK)

The 2013 No.3 draft pick was being left behind by Josh Kelly (2) and Marcus Bontempelli, until now. Has had successive 30-disposal games with a haul of five goals to boot.

TIM O'BRIEN (Haw)

Confidence is growing every week, flying for his grabs and most now sticking, average marks up from 2.5 to 5.2.

 

Brandon Matera
Brandon Matera Michael Willson/AFL Media

BRANDON MATERA (GC)

The penny looks to have finally dropped after he was left out in the first two rounds. Becoming a consistent goalkicker with 15 in six games. Must keep it up.

JOE DANIHER (Ess)

Lambasted for a 1.6 display in round six, but is flourishing with extra support. On track for a first 50-goal season, with 26 so far after booting 5.0 yesterday.

CHARLIE DIXON (PA)

At 26, the Suns foundation player is finally finding consistency with Port, averaging six marks - double his career average - and 2.5 goals per match.

ORAZIO FANTASIA (Ess)

After slotting 29 majors in 19 games in 2016, the 21-year-old small forward is on track for a 50-goal season, with 22 from nine.

INTER:

Zak Jones (Syd), Ryan Burton (Haw), Jayden Hunt (Melb), Dan Butler (Rich), Sam Frost (Melb).

 

#AFLmostimproved

News Corp Australia


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