AFL 2020: Brownlow Medal tips, dark horses, outside chances, leaderboard, best chances, odds, Taylor Adams, Tom Mitchell, Nic Naitanui, Tom Hawkins, Zach Merrett, Luke Parker
In a year like no other, it seems fitting that we’ll have a Brownlow Medal count to match.
But just because the setting will be different doesn’t necessarily mean the end result will be.
If there is to be a shock winner to upstage Lachie Neale and take out ‘Charlie’, who is leading the pack? We’ve picked out the notable smokeys for the prestigious award.
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MORE BROWNLOW COVERAGE
ULTIMATE GUIDE: Favourites, odds and predictions
CLUB-BY-CLUB TIPS: Every team’s best Brownlow Medal hopes
TAYLOR ADAMS (COLLINGWOOD)
Probably the leader of the sleeper pack. He has had a career-best season, capped with his first best and fairest award at the Pies along with All-Australian selection. He has averaged 22.6 disposals (ranked above average), 5.4 tackles (elite) and 5.2 clearances (elite) per game as he quickly became Collingwood’s most important midfielder as Adam Treloar and Scott Pendlebury had stints out with injury. He was one of Collingwood’s shining lights in many of their wins and with a below-par season from Brodie Grundy and aforementioned injury stints for Treloar and Pendlebury, the votes are his to collect.
NIC NAITANUI (WEST COAST EAGLES)
It’s said often, but Nic Naitanui at full flight is one of the best sights in footy. He is a gamebreaker at his best and he was often just that in 2020. Averaged the most clearances of any ruckman (5.65 per game) and the fourth-most in the competition, behind only Clayton Oliver, Elliot Yeo and Patrick Cripps. His hitouts to advantage average (8.5 per game) is ranked elite and he has exerted his influence on many a game this season. Ruckman typically don’t get as much love as they deserve at the Brownlow, but Nic Nat isn’t like most other ruckman given the explosive way he plays his footy. He’s been out of the game for too long and has come back with an almighty bang. Should poll very well and is a sneaky top five chance.
TOM MITCHELL (HAWTHORN)
His return season went under the radar for the most part, but he built his way back into some of his best form and didn’t miss a game. Just the five wins won’t help, but the amount of footy he racked up is impossible to overlook. He’s already won the award once, so getting votes has never been the problem for him.
LUKE PARKER (SYDNEY SWANS)
Like Taylor Adams at Collingwood, many of Parker’s most high-profile teammates were absent from the side in 2020 due to injury. In their absence, he stepped up big-time, finishing second in the best and fairest behind Jake Lloyd and ranking above average in virtually every major category. Playing in just the five wins hurts his cause, but in Sydney’s games there aren’t many players who could take votes off him. Averaged 22.2 disposals per game and just under five clearances and five tackles.
TOM HAWKINS (GEELONG CATS)
It’s a strange old year, so perhaps we have a left of centre Brownlow Medal winner to boot. The Coleman Medallist obviously kicked the 46 goals, but he also ranked elite for disposals as a forward and was a pseudo-ruckman when the ball was in the forward line. A marking machine who stands out because of his sheer size and strength in the contest. Played in 11 wins as well which helps. Being in the same team as Patrick Dangerfield and a host of player who have had breakout years won’t exactly benefit his polling chances, but he is impossible to miss and should be the highest polling key forward given the all-encompassing nature of his role.
ZACH MERRETT* (ESSENDON)
So he can’t actually win it due to his suspension during the year, but Merrett may well be right among the top echelon of vote-getters on Sunday night. Ranked elite for average disposals (26.3 per game) and was huge in most of their six wins. Again, the lack of on-field success could hurt him as well as how he polls post-suspension, but he is one to watch closely.