David King has praised Essendon’s massive improvement in 2021, but says the likes of Devon Smith and Dylan Shiel have “a little work to do” to find their ideal role alongside Ben Rutten.
The Bombers’ long wait for a final win will continue for another season after being comfortably defeated by the Western Bulldogs by 49 points on Sunday in Launceston.
While many tipped to finish at the bottom of the ladder, Rutten’s side managed to secure an unlikely final spot with one of the youngest rosters in the competition.
King said that while there was much positive about Essendon, there were still questions about how several senior names would fit into the team next year.
“They have some work to do with their older players (like) Devon Smith and Dylan Shiel,” he said on Whateley from SEN.
‘Where are they going with those boys?
“Can they become top midfielders and strikers again or have we seen the best of them yet? Those are the questions they would ask.
“This is now Darcy Parish and Zach Merrett’s midfield, they don’t have to go back to the other guys. They’ve had huge wins in what they’ve got with some of those young guys.”
Despite those questions, King is impressed with what the team has accomplished in Rutten’s first season at the helm.
“They have exceeded all expectations,” he added.
“The young children have paved the way, they have great leadership and I am a big fan of what Ben Rutten has been able to do.
“I’ve always been a fan of Dyson Heppell’s leadership, but I love every step Ben Rutten has made. You have the young ruckman (Sam Draper) who has a crack and you have the periphery of those young players. I think over the weekend they had five players with 20 games or less, they were clearly the youngest team in this series of finals.
“They had less than 80 finals experience across the board, Geelong had 160. You have to compare what they’re dealing with – the Dogs were about 100 games and that’s a big difference. Two extra seasons per player, there is a lot to learn from that gap.
“I’m watching (Jayden) Laverde’s movement on the back and I’m watching where they go with Jordan Ridley the interceptor.”