While footy clubs are circling the Melbourne Demons with the intent of snatching Jesse Hogan and Angus Brayshaw, they have another issue on their hands with their high-paid recruit Jake Lever, whose five-year deal at $800,000 per year is not yielding the sort of return for which the Dees had hoped.
Lever is not having the sort of start to the Toyota 2018 Premiership competition that might have been after the former Adelaide Crows backman has struggled to find his footy in the Demons’ defensive 50.
He was the number 1 intercept player in 2017 and judging by the results through the first four rounds of the 2018 season, the high-scoring Crows might wish Lever was still there to hold down the other clubs that have been grounding the Crows thus far.
The Crows might have had the premonition that they had gotten all that Lever had to give, as they sent Lever to the Dees for two first-round picks.
AFL 360 co-host Mark Robinson suggested that the Dees’ have not received fair return on Lever, when he said, “Jake Lever’s come over on $800,000 and he’s probably getting paid the second-most dollars for a defender in the competition right now behind (Richmond’s) Alex Rance. But he’s not in the top 15 key defenders in the game right now. He’s on such a steep learning curve of how he was able to be used and played at Adelaide and what he’s been asked, or what opposition teams are forcing him to do, at Melbourne.”
Lever appeared especially vulnerable in the Demons’ loss to the Hawthorn Hawks, where he was caught out of position too far up the ground, which lead to easy Hawks’ goals.
The situation seems easily fixable by simply moving Lever back so that he is the deepest on the field, something that served well during Lever’s time with the Crows.
It may require a couple more rounds for Lever to gain the necessary acclimation to his role in the Dees’ defense, but he certainly has the skills and wherewithal to adapt.