THESE are the numbers that illustrate why Melbourne desperately needed to land two reliable wingmen at the end of last year.

History shows the Demons' list management team identified Docker Ed Langdon (trade) and Giant Adam Tomlinson (free agency) as recruiting priorities and managed to secure both. 

They could prove the keys to a more settled Melbourne line-up in 2020, especially with a healthier playing list.

03:09 Mins
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Get Excited, Demons: The best of recruit Ed Langdon

Former Docker Ed Langdon heads to Melbourne and here is what they should expect

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Plenty was written about the Demons' contested ball-winning ability in their banner 2018 season – but there were just as many words last year about the club's lack of spread or 'outside run'.

The search for wingmen was a multi-year operation that included a new role for Nathan Jones, fewer centre-bounce attendances for Angus Brayshaw and tacking ex-Sun Kade Kolodjashnij onto the Steven May trade.

They were three of a competition-high 14 players coach Simon Goodwin tried on a wing last season, according to Champion Data.

The AFL average was 8.5, with Port Adelaide using only four, and Collingwood and Hawthorn five each.

To qualify, footballers needed to have spent at least 100 minutes on a wing and 10 per cent of their total season game time.

More damning for Melbourne was that only Brayshaw and James Harmes rated 'above average' once their performance as wingmen was benchmarked against all players in that position.

PLAYER

2019 GAMES

WING %

TOTAL MINS ON WING

RATING

Jay Kennedy Harris

5

90.4

400

Average

Kade Kolodjashnij

2

76.0

138

Poor

Oskar Baker

9

74.6

577

Below average

Billy Stretch

9

74.5

611

Average

Kyle Dunkley

5

53.6

234

Below average

Corey Wagner

11

37.9

395

Below average

Bayley Fritsch

22

24.9

561

Average

Nathan Jones

22

22.6

499

Average

Angus Brayshaw

22

20.3

409

Above average

Jay Lockhart

12

18.3

207

Poor

Jordan Lewis

12

17.5

213

Average

Jayden Hunt

21

17.4

349

Poor

Josh Wagner

12

13.5

160

Average

James Harmes

22

12.6

282

Above average

 

Hawks premiership coach Alastair Clarkson bemoaned only two years ago that wingmen had almost gone extinct, yet the Dees' wing woes coincided with a re-emergence elsewhere.

Hugh McCluggage and Mitch Robinson thrived at Brisbane, Hawthorn's Ricky Henderson and Fremantle's Bradley Hill put together career-best campaigns, and Josh Kelly and Andrew Gaff were outstanding again.

Bulldog Lachie Hunter, experienced Hawks Isaac Smith and Tom Scully, and aerobically gifted Magpie Tom Phillips are other members of a strong generation of wingers.

Langdon, the younger brother of Collingwood's Tom, caught Melbourne's attention on the Optus Stadium wings with back-to-back top-five finishes in the Dockers' club champion award.

Meanwhile, Tomlinson never settled in a position at Greater Western Sydney but still in the Demons' memory were some standout showings on the wing, including his 26 disposals in the 2017 preliminary final.

The shortened quarters certainly played a role but the Dees were far more stable in round one against West Coast.

06:16 Mins
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Highlights: West Coast v Melbourne

The Eagles and Demons go head to head in round one

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Tomlinson and Langdon both played more than 98 per cent game time as wingmen, with Brayshaw (6.8 per cent) and Harmes (four per cent) soaking up the rest of the minutes.

Langdon, in particular, impressed with 31 disposals – 27 uncontested – almost 800m gained and eight inside 50s.

That flowed into the centre square, where only Clayton Oliver, Jack Viney, Christian Petracca and Brayshaw rotated between the three midfield spots alongside star ruckman Max Gawn. 

Chaos reigned at Demonland last year but Goodwin and co. may have recruited their way to line-up tranquility.