Is it realistic to expect top AFL draft pick Cam Rayner to lift the Brisbane Lions from the bottom of the ladder?
The Lions have nowhere to go but up, unless, that is, they wind up remaining exactly where they are now.
Many a top draft pick has found themselves crushed under the weight of unrealistic expectations. It is simply not fair to expect Rayner, or any other top draft pick, to immediately begin to produce Patrick Dangerfield-like results in his first season.
Still, it is not completely unrealistic for Rayner to have some impact during his first AFL season in 2018 and the Lions seem to have made some savvy moves in the offseason and so far as their list is concerned, adding Charlie Cameron and Luke Hodge.
Hodge is almost certain to start and his veteran presence will certainly add some stability to the league’s youngest list and he is being groomed as a coach-on-the-ground with an eye toward a full-time coaching role at some point in the future.
With Dayne Beams returning as captain and All-Australian midfielder and Lions’ best and fairest Dayne Zorko (you can never have too many Daynes) playing for Chris Fagan, it would seem as though the Lions are checking off the proper boxes and making the right moves to improve on their 5 – 17 2017 campaign.
The Lions are hoping to have Mitch Robinson and Allen Christensen fit and ready to go for Round 1, where they will match up against the St. Kilda Saints.
The Lions, with sincere apologies to the Melbourne Demons, have their first true test of 2018 when they travel south to meet Port Adelaide Power at the Adelaide Oval before traveling to Melbourne the following week to meet flag holders Richmond Tigers in Round 4.
The Lions also have a favourite for the Rising Star award in Alex Witherden. The 19-year-old made nine appearances last season and averaged 23.6 disposals in a solid run, so there is another young player besides Rayner facing great expectations.