Essendon has exited the 2023 AFL draft with high hopes and a handful of draft selections in addition to a busy trade period and free agency window.
The Bombers traded up with Geelong to secure Nate Caddy with the 10th overall selection, a prospect known for his vertical leaping ability, marking, acceleration, and overall athleticism.
Caddy, nephew of two-time Richmond premiership player Josh Caddy, is a centre-half-forward from the Northern Knights. Despite an early leg fracture, he had a strong draft campaign, representing the Knights, Parade College, Vic Metro, AFL Academy, and Carlton's VFL side.
He scored 25.19 from nine Talent League games, including a standout 6.4 and 25-disposal performance in Round 11, earning him a spot in the Talent League Team of the Year.
Caddy's selection by Essendon, particularly their move to trade up to secure him, indicates their high expectations for his contribution to the team. His athleticism and skills in key forward positions make him a valuable addition to Essendon's lineup.
Standing at 182cm and weighing 72kg, Lual is a product of the GWV Rebels and South Warrnambool and is noted for his line-breaking abilities from the defensive end. He played 14 games for GWV, averaging 17.9 disposals, 3.6 tackles, and 2.9 rebound 50s per match, earning a spot in the Talent League Team of the Year. His versatility allows him to be effective in midfield or on a wing, showcasing his skills both offensively and defensively.
Essendon's National Recruiting Manager Rob Forster-Knight spoke to the media after the second night of the 2023 AFL Draft, displaying his excitement to bolster their speedy backline further.
"He's an exciting playmaker of half-back that we are watching really closely throughout the year," said Forster-Knight.
"He had a great year with the Rebels and then also transferred that into the national champs with Vic country as well and a young man of outstanding character as well, so, yeah, really lucky to secure him as that pick.
"He's late to football as well, late starter, so had a soccer background originally and then he's just grown and grown throughout the year and he's got speed, agility and takes the game on which we like and also competes strongly as well."
The Bombers also traded up to select Victorian defender Archie Roberts, indicating their high regard for his abilities and potential. Forster-Knight highlighted Roberts' unexpected availability at pick No.54 as a fortunate opportunity for the club, praising his versatility and potential for growth.
Forster-Knight was asked if he expected Roberts to be available that late in the draft.
''Probably not, to be honest," he said.
"He's an all-Australian calibre player, so he had a great year obviously this year for Sandringham Dragons and played in the premiership and also had a great year at Hailebury as well.
"Two good football programs and again probably weren't expecting him to be there at 54, but we are very happy to select him.
"He's a left-footer, footy IQ is pretty high as well, so he can play half back wing.
"Pretty versatile sort of player as well, so, yeah, I think he'd come in and hopefully push for a selection in the coming years."
Fortser-Knight was asked if half-back playmakers were something that they were targeting in the draft.
"Yeah, definitely looking at totality of the trading and free agency period as well," said the recruitment manager.
"Got a mix of players in, it's probably an area we wanted to address the half-back line and get boxed to that up with a couple of players and they're both players that can come in and build around the players that we've already got in our team."
The Bombers added to their National Draft crop with the selection of Sandringham ruckman Vigo Visentini at Wednesday's Rookie Draft.