1. Sydney: Swans win a Premiership virtually without a conventional forward line. Now they will most likely add Kurt Tippet who will be fresh after his 11 games suspension and will be primed by the time September comes around. Sydney continues to show why they are the model club in the league. Jude Bolton to return for his fifteenth season.
2. Greater Western Sydney: Remember this is a preseason ranking not a prediction of the Premiers. How can you not like the job the Giants are doing right now. They add more elite young talent (first three picks in the draft) alongside the likes of Greene, Cameron and Patton. Tough and hardened veterans will continue to mould them. They are locked and loaded for the future and could be scary.
3. Hawthorn: Buddy Franklin says he is going nowhere at the end of 2013 season and they now add Brian Lake to sure up the back half. The Hawks will be one of the elite teams in the league once again.
4. Essendon: Perhaps, the biggest winners in this offseason. Stealing Darcy Daniher (father-son selection) and Brendon Goddard were real coups. Daniher makes the bombers spine look dangerous and a motivated Goddard will provide the bombers with much needed class in the middle.
5. Collingwood: Really liked what the Pies did with their trading and drafting. Gaining picks 18, 19 and 20 will provide needed depth as they looked rather thin late last season. Brodie Grundy, while young, is an instant upgrade on Cam Wood. A fit Luke Ball and the inclusion of ex-hawk Clinton Young will cover the departure of Wellingham quite easily.
6. Richmond: It’s not often you see the Tiges in the top six of many rankings, but for now, they sit appropriately at six. Richmond set out to fill obvious holes in their list and they succeeded by adding the underrated backman, Troy Chaplin, injury-plagued but talented high half-forward, Chris Knights, and veteran Aaron Edwards. The Tigers then picked up some interesting project players in the draft and a tough solid citizen in Nick Vlastuin.
7. West Coast: It’s not so much what the Eagles did but what they already have. Another strong pre-season in Nic Naitanui and Andrew Gaff, and the return of Mark LeCras make West Coast possibly scary in 2013. Having the trio of Daniel Kerr (set to miss a month of preseason following knee surgery), Dean Cox and Darren Glass doesn’t hurt either.
8. Fremantle: Now that the purple haze have earned some respect from their impressive win over Geelong in week one of the finals, they look set for another solid year. A bit like West Coast, another pre-season in young guns Nathan Fyfe and Stephen Hill will help the Dockers become a regular fixture in September. Danyle Pearce from Port Adelaide might just be one of the underrated signings in the offseason. Only because if there is one man who can demand consistency of effort out of perennial underperformers, that is Ross Lyon.
9. Geelong: The Cats have taken a little punt on acquiring Hamish McIntosh and Jared Rivers but both could prove handy in Geelong’s hope to stay relevant. Josh Caddy will thrive in a strong and well established culture down in Geelong. Yet, whenever you lose a champion and future Hall of Famer fullback, you can never expect things to stay the same.
10. North Melbourne: A nice pick up in Ben Jacobs from Port Adelaide and another first round draft pick will please supporters. North will be hoping for continued growth from their young players to make sure they play in September again. Great to see Boomer Harvey running around for another year. Yet as North’s list stands, they will only go as far as Harvey and Petrie take them.
11. Carlton: Get a proven coach and motivator? Tick. Avoid any drunken offseason scandal? Tick. Besides the issue of “Visy”, it has been relatively quite so far in Carlton of late. Drafting Troy Menzel at pick 11 could be a steal as some experts thought Menzel was a top 10 pick.
12. Brisbane: I’m not as bullish on the future of the Lions or on their midfield as Michael Voss is. Brent Moloney made a good decision for his career to leave Melbourne but question marks remain if the game has gone past him or not. If he can recapture form from 2011, he will give the Lions another chop out for champion Simon Black. Pick eight Sam Mayes will gives the Lions much needed depth in the forward half.
13. Gold Coast: Talented? Yes. But you need more than talent and often it’s balance and the right mixture of talent (something which Sydney has mastered). This preseason poses to be their most crucial period in their short history. Gary Ablett Jr. is playing at another level at the moment.
14. Port Adelaide: Resigning Travis Boak was a massive win for the Power. But it has been a tough few months with the death of John McCarthy. Koch’s arrival is a worry though.
15. St Kilda: Goddard was a great get for Essendon but clearly at St. Kilda he just wasn’t motivated anymore after realising the Saints are on an inevitable decline. The gap between the Saints’ veterans and their young players is worrying as they head into the new year.
16. Melbourne: To address the dire state of their list and more importantly their culture, Melbourne acquired veterans David Rodan and Shannon Byrnes to provided much needed leadership. These two will prove more valuable off the field than on it. Top rated draftees, Jimmy Toumpas and Jack Viney will help the commencement of the rejuvenation of the list. Melbourne fans will be pleased Cale Morton is no longer in the red and the blue.
17. Adelaide: Controversy. If there is one word to describe their summer, that’s it. The Crows won’t find themselves anywhere near this part of the rankings (or below Port Adelaide) once the season starts but for now its just messy in the city of churches. Losing Kurt Tippet who dominated Hawthorn in the Preliminary Final and future picks doesn’t help them on field either.
18. Western Bulldogs: News of Adam Cooney training and moving well is positive but it’s difficult to get excited about the Doggies. Luke Dahlhaus is worth watching but it’s worrying when he is pinned as the “future of the club”. The bulldogs’ forward line, which was abysmal last season, did not improve via the draft or free agency.