AFL Round Table: Who is the greatest player of the generation?

Our AFL experts Niall Seewang, Jake Michaels, Matt Walsh and Jesse Robinson ponder just who the 'player of the generation' has been.

Who is the player of the generation?

Niall Seewang: I agree with Jude - Gary Ablett by a nose, ahead of Lance Franklin and Dustin Martin. That trio, as well as Patrick Dangerfield and Nat Fyfe, are the standout talents of this generation but Ablett's longevity has him No. 1 for me.

Ablett isn't as explosive or powerful as the others mentioned -- although his athleticism is perhaps underrated -- but his ability to destroy teams as both a midfielder and forward for more than a decade is remarkable. He's such a beautiful and damaging kick, too, which also sets him apart from the others.

And to think his dad, who is in the top handful of players I've ever seen, probably isn't the best player in his family!

Jake Michaels: I can't believe this is even up for debate. The answer is clearly Gary Ablett.

It's easy to fall into the trap of judging Ablett's career based on what he's dished up in the last couple of seasons, but cast your mind back five, six, seven or eight years. Remember the early Gold Coast years? Or what about before he moved up north? Yep, Ablett has been the competition's benchmark player for over a decade.

'The Little Master' has won just about every accolade our game offers including two premierships, two Brownlow Medals and five AFL MVP awards. He's also made the All-Australian team on EIGHT occasions and had six seasons where he averaged over 28 disposals and a goal per game. Sorry Buddy, Danger and Dusty, Gaz has got you all covered.

Matt Walsh: He's definitely not a sexy nomination, and he hasn't won a Brownlow (though it is a midfielder's award) but Luke Hodge has been the best player of this generation, with apologies to Gaz, Lance Franklin and others.

He retired at the end of last year as a four-time premiership player, three-time premiership captain, two-time Norm Smith medallist and three-time All-Australian (and was captain in 2010). He was called "the General" and for good reason - he was a leader who other leaders looked up to, and took charge of that Hawthorn defence with aplomb for the better part of a decade.

Ask any Brisbane Lions player about Hodge's on-field influence and they'll say he was a major reason for the Lions' rapid rise up the ladder in 2019. The bloke just knows football and you could make a strong case he is the player of the generation.

Jesse Robinson: Lance "Buddy" Franklin is the greatest player of the generation, and arguably the best forward of all time.

In an era when kicking goals is getting harder as each season passes, Buddy's consistency has been remarkable; he still manages to wheel around and thump goals through at an average of 3.1 per game. Franklin is the first player to have kicked 100 goals in a season since Tony Lockett in 1998, and the way things are going he may be the last to ever do it.

Buddy has four Coleman Medals, eight All-Australian selections as well as two cars after winning Goal of the Year, twice. Stats aside, there is something remarkable about watching Franklin play - the high flying juggling marks, the wheeling around onto his left, the crunching tackles ... he truly is an awesome player.

No player has been able to fill seats or be as consistently recognised outside of Melbourne as Franklin, and that's saying something considering how fickle Sydney's sporting landscape is. Let's hope he can once again get healthy and continues to kick bags of goals this season.