Vendetta Sports Media’s coverage of the 2021 AFL season continues today with a look back at the offseason and a look forward at the prospects of the Adelaide Crows.

If you missed our previous previews, check out my assessment on the Bombers and Magpies.

Adelaide Crows home guernsey

After reaching the grand final in 2017, the Crows slide into mediocrity and then ineptitude has been as shocking as it has been swift. As a result, the club, for perhaps the first time in their 30 year history, has entered a full blown rebuild.

Season 2020

18th position: 3 wins, 14 losses, 64.4%.

Rookie coach Matthew Nicks endured a nightmare start to his coaching career in 2020. Whilst his Crows were not expected to pull up any trees, nobody expected them to lose their opening 13 games. Nicks was unable to get his side to move the ball with any fluency, and this contributed to an under serviced forward line that finished dead last in the AFL in scoring.

Perhaps their only bright spot was the emergence of youngsters Shane McAdam, Harry Schoenberg and in particular Lachlan Scholl, who has quickly developed into an excellent winger.

Key ins: Jackson Hately (Giants), Riley Thilthorpe, Luke Pedlar, Brayden Cook, James Rowe (all draft)

Key outs: Brad Crouch (Saints), Rory Atkins, (Suns), Kyle Hartigan (Hawks), Bryce Gibbs (retired), Ben Crocker (released)

The Crows are intent on building through youth. As a result, they’ve only brought in draft picks, and the 20 year old Hately, who will slot straight into the starting midfield, from the Giants.

Second overall draft pick Thilthorpe is Adelaide’s great white hope. The former representative hockey player has rare pace and balance for a 6’7” athlete and has a year’s experience playing against grown men in the South Australian state league.

Losing Crouch and Atkins will hurt, but Adelaide still have top notch ball winners in Rory Laird and Matt Crouch, a supreme ball user in captain Rory Sloane and an underrated ruckman in Reilly O’Brien.

The Crows issue is what happens with ball in hand. Sloane aside, there isn’t an elite kick in the side and their forward stocks are poor. Veteran forward Tex Walker has aged in dog years and will do well to hold his place in the side in 2021. Tom Lynch and the youngster Thilthorpe aside, there doesn’t appear to be another potential goalkicker on the list.

Defensively, Nicks seems to have his structures right. Daniel Talia is a dependable, if dour, full back who can shot down just about any forward with the right support around him. If Adelaide can get the prodigiously talented, but sadly injury prone (only 21 games played across four seasons) Tom Doedee on the park then the Crows can start to build a team from defense out.

Prediction: 18th

Sadly, the pain is only just beginning for the once proud Crows. Their most credentialled players are getting old, and most of their young starlets are too green to make a consistent impact at AFL level. Still, with the youngest list in the league, things can only get better in Adelaide. Can’t they? After that 13 game losing streak, the Crows closed the season with three wins in their last four contests, so there is a sense of cautions optimism around the club.

Adelaide won their first ever wooden spoon in 2020. They’ll double that haul in 2021.