The Bombers surprised everyone in 2021 by sneaking into finals on the back of a strong finish. Led by performances from their midfield stars, the emergence of a new crop made them the buzz team last year.

The real challenge now comes with the weight of expectation. An undoubtedly talented list will now look to push on to another level. Last year proved to be the season we saw Darcy Parish establish himself as a superstar of the competition.

His stunning year was capped off by rightly being named in the All-Australian team and a top-five Brownlow finish with 26 votes. With Parish ably aided by the likes of Jake Stringer, Zach Merrett, Jordan Ridley, Andy McGrath and Nick Hind, the core talent is strong.

More exciting perhaps is the young contingent coming through. The likes of Nik Cox, Archie Perkins and Harrison Jones announced themselves in 2021 and will look to kick on this year.

While the lack of depth at key positions is a concern, the club will be hoping another year of development will present new options. Having not won a final in over 6000 days, they will be keen to banish that demon once and for all.

Off-Season Moves

Ins: Jake Kelly (Adelaide), Ben Hobbs (pick 13), Alistair Lord (Pick 46), Garrett McDonagh (Pick 50), Patrick Voss (Rookie Draft Pick 9), Tex Wanganeen (SSP), Nick Martin (SSP)

Outs: Patrick Ambrose (Retired), Ned Cahill (Delisted), Marty Gleeson (Delisted), Cale Hooker (Retired), Lachie Johnson (Delisted), Sam McQuillan (Retired), Irving Mosquito (Delisted), David Zaharakis (Delisted)



Midfield depth: The strength for the Bombers lies in their midfield. It's stacked with plenty of star power, explosiveness, inside grunt and outside carry. Add in the developing Sam Draper and it's looking very good.

While Parish and Stringer are match-winners, the likes of Merrett, McGrath, Devon Smith and Dylan Shiel are consistent ball-winners who excel at stoppages. Throw in the youth of Jye Caldwell, Kyle Langford and new top-end draftee Ben Hobbs, it's an incredibly deep and balanced midfield.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 03: Jake Stringer of the Bombers celebrates a goal with Darcy Parish of the Bombers during the 2021 AFL Round 03 match between the Essendon Bombers and the St Kilda Saints at Marvel Stadium on April 03, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The only issue that coach Ben Rutten will face is deciding who to start at the centre bounces. There are plenty of mouths to feed so keeping everyone happy with be his toughest task.