Melbourne is one of the better-placed clubs for the 2023 AFL Draft, with the finals-contending Demons holding two selections in the first dozen slots.

A trade last year with Fremantle that saw them lose Luke Jackson has turned in their favour, with the Dockers' opening pick for this year much earlier in the queue than what might've previously been expected.

The Demons made further trade moves this year to better their draft hand and hold another top-11 selection, while they also gained an end-of-third-round pick as free agency compensation for midfielder James Jordon's Harbour City departure.

Ties to an exciting father-son prospect will be another consideration for the Demons come draft night, but their priorities will be focused on their early work for night one of the count.

Here we analyse Melbourne's draft hand and list needs going forward, and the prospects they might consider selecting.

Draft Hand

Picks: 6, 11, 42, and 93.

The Demons will reap the benefits from their trade with Fremantle last year at November's draft, with the Dockers' disappointing 2023 campaign leading the 2021 premiers to be sixth in line at this year's draft.

That selection places Melbourne in line to access the top bracket of prospects for this year's count, while Pick 11 is likely to push back closer to 15th overall but will still see the Demons pick up a leading name before the level of talent falls off a touch.

Their free agency compensation selection of Pick 42 is likely to float out and back in during the draft following a number of Academy and father-son picks, and could eventually be in the mid-30s by the time they make their third selection.

List Needs

Midfield Depth: While loaded with stars on their top line, Melbourne's midfield ensemble did take a hit this year with the loss of depth players Jordon and James Harmes. The pair combined for 27 games in 2023, and while their exits will open doors for a Taj Woewodin or Trent Rivers potential move into the middle, adding in more midfield depth - more specifically a contested ball-winner - is needed for the Demons' long-term plans rather than their immediate requirements.

Taj Woewodin during Melbourne's open training session at Gosch's Paddock, Melbourne in 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes/Zero Digital Sports)

Outside Run: It can be hard to fault where Melbourne's key issues lie, with their forward line a big problem this year but simultaneously home to an elite crop of names in Bayley Fritsch, Kysaiah Pickett and Jacob van Rooyen, plus 2022 first-round selection Matt Jefferson. Some general run and carry that would complement their spine might be the avenue Melbourne heads down, with plenty of flank or wing prospects on offer for the Demons to consider at this year's draft.

Tall Defender: The Demons are home to two of the premier key backmen in the competition in premiership pair Steven May and Jake Lever. The club has hopes for Harrison Petty to be a forward asset for the future, with his move to attack - or potentially back home to SA - in the coming years opening up a role for someone to work alongside the likes of May and Lever. Veteran Adam Tomlinson could hold the role for the next 12 months as Dan Turner and Jed Adams continue to develop, but another promising tall backman would be a good call from their recruit team at the draft.

Potential Prospects

Ryley SandersThe Tasmanian ball-winner is among the top few midfielders this year's class can offer, with Sanders a strong inside worker who's drawn comparisons to Demons star Clayton Oliver. A consistent presence in midfield for this year's National Championships premiers the Allies, where he took out the best player award, Sanders could be the top talent available when Melbourne is first on the clock. The Demons are also set to gain some additional midfield hustle in the form of father-son talent Kynan Brown, who could be selected late into the piece or via the Rookie Draft.

Allies talent Ryley Sanders at 2023 National Championships (Photo by Mark Brake/AFL Photos)

Archie RobertsThe Sandringham Dragons and Vic Metro representative is a versatile half-back flanker who can push further up the field, relying on his aerobic capacity, speed and ball use to leave his mark on a game. Roberts could be the outside runner the Demons are looking for, with the 184cm defender to bide his time and work under the likes of Christian Salem, Angus Brayshaw, Jake Bowey and Trent Rivers. Roberts would be a bolter if taken with one of Melbourne's opening two picks, but he's a strong chance to go in the opening round and be out of their reach after their second selection. Western Australia's Riley Hardeman could also be up for grabs in the teens, while Melbourne might be hopeful Eastern Ranges wingman Caleb Windsor slides to their second selection.

Will Patton: The South Australia captain is a consistent and smart defender who is equally damaging with his ball use as he is in the air intercepting the Sherrin. The 192cm talent moved the ball at almost 90% efficiency at the National Championships this year and is among the leading medium-sized defenders in the 2023 class, able to play as a small or tall option. With Melbourne's third selection coming late into the second round, Patton could be in their sights.

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