We're at the middle of the week, and that means we are crossing over the half-way mark of my top 50 AFL players this week. Today, we are going to go through players ranked 30-21, with a number of players unlucky not to crack the final 20.
If you've missed either parts one or two, the links will be below, otherwise continue scrolling to see who makes this group of 10.
Season 2018 was going along superbly for Andrew Gaff, until that moment with Andrew Brayshaw, which left him with a broken jaw, and Gaff out for eight weeks, penultimately costing him a premiership medal. Still, his impact in his 19 games were immense enough to win a spot on the wing in the All-Australian team, averaging over 30 touches per game. One can only ponder what could've been if he didn't have that brain fade.
It has been another huge year for Lachie Neale, which saw him claim his second Doig Medal in three years. Unfortunately for Dockers fans, he will be in Brisbane colours in 2019 after reports surfaced he was unhappy at Freo and is seeking a fresh start. Averaged 32.3 disposals, 7.1 clearances and 4.2 tackles per game this year. Lions fans should look forward to what he brings to the table.
After a down year last season, Luke Breust bounced back with a very good season which saw him rack up 50-plus goals for the third time in eight seasons, slotting 54.24 for the year. He was easily the best small forward in the league this year – being named in a forward pocket in the All-Australian team and even though his finals campaign wasn't as good as he was hoping for, it was still an overall good year for him.
This year was perhaps one of the better years I've seen from Tom Hawkins in years. He started the year slowly, kicking four goals in his first four matches, but then captured some form to finish the year with 60 goals for the season, including back-to-back seven goal hauls against Melbourne and Brisbane. Was named in the All-Australian squad of 40, but he definitely had a case to press for the final 22.
Devon Smith surely has to be recruit of 2018. His form for the Bombers this year has been nothing short of sensational. In his first year donning the red sash, Smith won Essendon's best and fairest and was the number one tackler in the league, more than doubling the number of tackles he laid in his last season at the Giants in 2017. He averaged 8.4 tackles per game, along with 22 disposals and 3.3 clearances and 3.1 inside 50s,
He probably should've been the All-Australian captain at the end of the day, but the facts still remain that 2018 was Shannon Hurn's best year yet and he just turned 31 over a month ago. An All-Australian off half-back and a premiership captain at the Eagles. Hurn's averages consisted of 21.2 disposals, 7.8 marks and 4.8 rebound 50s – all of them career-highs. An extraordinary year from him.
24. Jack Darling – West Coast Pre-Season Ranking: N/A 2018 Games: 21 2018 Goals: 48
For years, Jack Darling was considered a talent that was on the cusp of being amongst the game's elite forwards. By round nine this year, he kicked 28 goals and looked set on a breakout year, then he hurt his hamstring badly and missed about a month. He still had his moments in the second half of the year, including a massive third term in the Grand Final when the Eagles needed someone to stand up. Finished the year with 48 goals, averaging 2.3 per game and is poised for a bigger 2019.
Took everyone by surprise when he finished third in the Brownlow Medal ahead of team mates Max Gawn and Clayton Oliver. He played pretty much his first full year since his debut season in 2015, only missing one game in 2018. Averaged 26.1 disposals – a career high – along with 5.1 inside 50s, 4.9 marks, 4.5 tackles and 4.2 clearances per game this year. Starting to look like every bit of a top-two draft pick.
22. Ben Brown – North Melbourne Pre-Season Ranking: 38 2018 Games: 22 2018 Goals: 61
Ben Brown led the Coleman Medal race for virtually all but the last few rounds, when Jack Riewoldt's bag of 10 propelled him to the top. Brown kicked over 60 goals for the second consecutive year, he had a strong start to the year, kicking 23 goals in the first six games, and even though his form tapered off in the second half of the year, I thought Brown's 2018 was as good as his 2017.
This time last year, Jack Gunston was being trialled in a number of positions around the ground, but this year he was back playing his predominant position in the forward line, with stints around the ground and was back to his best form, kicking 51 goals for the year, whilst averaging 17.8 disposals, 5.4 marks and three inside 50s per game. Was named All-Australian this year for the first time.
Find out who makes the the top 20 starting tomorrow as I unveil who has taken the slots from 20-11. Stay tuned!!!