For the fourth year in a row, Hawthorn will carry a top seven selection to the AFL Draft, with their current opening place at fourth overall their highest position in the pecking order in 18 years.

A busy trade period saw the Waverley club acquire four players - one already familiar to them - while still being able to hold onto their first-round selections for this year and next.

The Hawks also managed to clear enough middle-range selections and pocket later draft picks ahead of a count that sees them tied to a trio of exciting teenagers that can be attained through bid matching and draft points.

Heading toward year three under senior coach Sam Mitchell, the Hawks still have some way to go in their rebuild, but all signs point to up.

Here we analyse how the Hawks can get the most out of their draft hand for 2023, and the players likely in their sights.

Draft Hand

Picks: 4, 44, 47, 49, 62, 63, 83

The Hawks, unfortunately, felt the most of North Melbourne's high-end free agency compensation this off-season, with their place at third in the queue pushed back one spot after the Roos gained a band one selection.

Nevertheless, list manager Mark McKenzie will have access to one of the leading names from this year's crop - with their selection at Pick 4 likely reliant on who, or how, the Roos choose to use their opening two picks.

The Hawks have shuffled out of the second round given the expected range a bid for father-son talent Will McCabe is likely to come, with the South Australian tall defender potentially in the sights of rivals as early as the mid-teens.

Torrens University SA U18 National Championships players (L-R) Will McCabe, Jack Delean and Tyler Welsh. (Picture – AFL Photos)

With five selections between selections 44 and 63, Hawthorn should have the points to match a bid for McCabe and continue to carry out further draft plans on the second night of the count.

List Needs

Attacking Support: The Hawks made it known they're keen to find a supporting cast for first-string forward Mitch Lewis, whose influence in Sam Mitchell's side is of significance when fit. While they were able to acquire Gold Coast's Mabior Chol and secure the return of veteran Jack Gunston, more tall attacking assets might be of interest given the uncertainty of Chol's form and Gunston's age. Defender Denver Grainger-Barras was utilised as a forward target this year but is no certainty to be a long-term option for Hawthorn. Even at ground level and despite the recent trade for Jack Ginnivan, the Hawks could contemplate adding to their small forward depth options.

Backline Options: The Hawks dipped their toes into the key defender market this off-season but they couldn't make a splash, missing out on free agent Ben McKay and wantaway Geelong tall Esava Ratugolea. They will find some support in the likely addition of the aforementioned McCabe, who could have an instant impact at senior level as a third-tall intercepting option. Working alongside captain James Sicily, the formidable Jack Scrimshaw and emerging talent James Blanck, McCabe is one of several options that can press a case for a starting role as early as 2024.

Priority Access: McCabe isn't alone in having ties to Waverley prior to draft night, with further father-son and Next Generation Academy prospects needing to be considered by McKenzie and his crew. While not exactly a 'list need' for Hawthorn, their hopes of taking two father-son prospects and seeing their top-rated NGA talent slip past the Pick 40 mark will play a significant role in their draft plans.

Potential Targets

Zane DuursmaA prospect that could be out of reach at Pick 4, but the Hawks will have Duursma in their sights with their opening selection given the number of names North Melbourne will be considering ahead of them. The athletic half-forward is equally damaging in the attacking third as he is in midfield and would be an astute selection for the Hawks given his versatility and upside. Much like the returning Gunston, Duursma can be a viable third tall forward target who has no issue pushing further up the field to get involved. Another Pick 4 selection the Hawks might consider is Eastern Ranges small forward Nick Watson, who would form a lethal partnership alongside Ginnivan or Dylan Moore.

BENDIGO, AUSTRALIA - MAY 01: Zane Duursma of the Gippsland Power celebrates kicking a goal during the round five NAB League match between the Bendigo Pioneers and Gippsland Power at Queen Elizabeth Oval on May 01, 2022 in Bendigo, Australia. (Photo by Graham Denholm/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Will McCabeThe Central Districts defender has been somewhat of a bolter this year to both satisfy and mildly frustrate Hawks fans. His rise will see Hawthorn have access to one of the best tall defenders and South Australian prospects among the class of 2023, but at the same time could cost them a large portion of their draft hand. The 197cm teenager has a strong frame and an elite vertical leap that sees him almost always get first hands to a flighted ball.

Calsher DearThe second father-son prospect on Hawthorn's radar is the son of the late Paul Dear, who was named best afield in the Hawks' 1991 premiership win over West Coast. Calsher is an athletic tall forward who can also pinch-hit in the ruck and would save a strong performance 'til last with a 13-disposal, 14-hitout and two-goal display in the Sandringham Dragons' Talent League Grand Final win in September. The 194cm forward isn't expected to be bid on early but should find his way onto Sam Mitchell's list.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Calsher Dear of the Dragons kicks a goal during the Coates Talent League Boys Grand Final match between Sandringham Dragons and Eastern Ranges at Ikon Park on September 24, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Tew JiathThe Hawks have been left to sweat on Jiath's rise across the 2023 season, given the Pick 40 cut-off that comes with matching NGA bids. The younger brother of current Hawks backman Changkuoth, Jiath's name is set to float close to that line, with the pacey half-back putting together a promising year with the Gippsland Power. Jiath recorded 29 disposals, 13 rebounds 50s and six tackles in his side's Wild Card round win over the Dandenong to flex his full set of skills. If a bid for Jiath does come too early, and should Dear remain up for grabs when the Hawks return to the clock, then South Australian small forward Jack Delean or Western Australian wingman Aiden O'Driscoll might be considered.