MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 28: The Lions form a huddle during the round 23 AFL match between the St Kilda Saints and the Brisbane Lions at Etihad Stadium on August 28, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

In this series we will be looking at each club’s best 22 for round one of 2017. Analysing the ins and outs of each club and assessing each side’s list. Working our way up the ladder; following the analysis of Essendon, the next club is Brisbane.

Ins: Jack Frost, Hugh McCluggage, Jarrod Berry, Alex Witherden, Cedric Cox, Jacob Allison, Corey Lyons, Jake Barrett, Mitchell Hinge, Oscar McInerney, Blake Grewar, Matt Eagles.

Outs: Hugh Beasley, Justin Clarke, Billy Evans, Josh Green, Pearce Hanley, Jaden McGrath, Josh McGuinness, Daniel Merrett, Jackson Paine, Josh Watts, Trent West.

Zero Hanger 2017 ladder prediction: 18th.

It has been a turbulent off-season for the Lions, the sacking of coach Justin Leppitsch brought new face Chris Fagan to the helm, while club captain Tom Rockliff sought greener pastures before being shopped around by the club and eventually remaining a Lion.

The Lions did what they needed to in the off-season. Getting in as many early draft picks as possible, and utilising one of their few moveable assets in Pearce Hanley to do so. This year needs to be another year of youth development for the Lions. However, if Fagan can piece together some of those draft selections, coupled with the return of their many injured or underdone stars, then in 2017 the Lions could push their way up the ladder. Stranger things have happened.

Strengths

Brisbane’s primary strength is the midfield. Despite the loss of Pearce Hanley, the Lions’ midfield still boasts some impressive names. Missing Dayne Beams for the best part of 2016 took a massive toll on the side, Beams is probably Brisbane’s best player and should make a big difference when he returns to the park. They also have good strength in depth with a host of their more senior players such as Bastinac, Bell, Mayes, Rich and Christensen all able to rotate on-ball.

If Stefan Martin can shake off the knee injury that plagued his 2016 season then he will return to being a force in the ruck. At his best Martin is one of the top ruckmen in the competition, his mobility enables him to play as a fourth follower and gives the Lions an edge very few teams posses. Archie Smith is an able back up, but Martin works best as a lone ruckman.

Their youngsters such as Josh Schache, Harris Andrews, Rhys Mathieson and the like are progressing well. Add the 2016 draft crop to the mix and you can see a decent side shaping up in the future.

Weaknesses

Following the retirement of Daniel Merrett, young key defenders Harris Andrews, Darcy Gardiner and former Pie Jack Frost will need to step up in defence. Each are promising young defenders, however, they simply aren’t yet good enough to hold the big forwards of the competition such as Josh Kennedy or Tom Hawkins on a regular basis. If Lance Franklin was to come up against them on a good day, things could get ugly.

Josh Schache is promising, but too young to be a dominant key forward in the league, while neither Daniel McStay, Michael Close or Josh Walker have lept from the pack as Schache’s long-term partner. This presents problems for the Lions as their lack of strong forward targets restrict their scoring ability, while in the past three seasons they have been completely unable to restrict opposition scoring. If Fagan can bring a strong defensive mindset, such as what Brendan Bolton has instilled at Carlton, then that will go a long way to shoring up Brisbane’s future.

Projected Brisbane Round 1, 2017 best 22:

FB: Jack Frost, Darcy Gardiner, Ryan Lester

HB: Ryan Harwood, Harris Andrews, Daniel Rich

C: Dayne Zorko, Tom Rockliff, Hugh McCluggage

HF: Sam Mayes, Josh Schache, Tom Bell

FF: Lewis Taylor, Daniel McStay, Allen Christensen

FOLL: Stefan Martin, Dayne Beams, Mitch Robinson

I/C: Ryan Bastinac, Rhys Mathieson, Rohan Bewick, Ben Keays

Emg: Archie Smith, Michael Close, Jarrod Berry