After orchestrating blockbuster trades for want-out ex-GWS Giants midfield pair Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper, in doing so addressing a pressing need to bolster their midfield, the Tigers find themselves short on draft selections heading toward the 2022 National Draft.
Just one year removed from five top-30 picks used on intercept defender Josh Gibcus (No. 9), half-back-flanker Tom Brown (No. 17), midfielder Tyler Sonsie (No. 28), defender Sam Banks (No. 29), and small forward Judson Clarke (No. 30), Richmond currently looks set to enter this year's festivities with just a handful of choices.
The 2021 selection of Sonsie, coupled with the deals for Taranto and Hopper, signalled the end of midfielder Riley Collier-Dawkins and utility Sydney Stack's time at Tigerland, however, Richmond did re-sign a host of listed players from last season, including premiership stalwarts Trent Cotchin and Jack Riewoldt, as well as emerging talents Noah Cumberland, Maurice Rioli, Gibcus, and Ben Miller.
So with their list already almost finalised, we take a look at their options for this month's draft.
Picks 53, 63, and 88.
The Tigers' list management brain trust will be tasked with digging deep this year in order to find some diamonds in the rough with their limited draft capital, boasting just three picks after exchanging two first-round picks and two second-round picks to the Giants for Taranto and Hopper, respectively.
However, sourcing talent further down the draft order is something the Punt Road club has had success achieving in past years, nabbing the likes of premiership players Jayden Short, Kane Lambert, and Jason Castagna at the 2014 Rookie Draft, as well as snatching up Nathan Broad with Pick 67 in 2015, Jack Graham at No. 53 in 2016, Ben Miller with Pick 63, Liam Baker in the Rookie Draft in 2017, and Maurice Rioli Jr. at No. 51 in 2020.
While the Tigers currently won't enter the draft until Pick 53, that selection is likely to increase its place in the queue after early father-son selections and potential matched Academy bids after Pick 40.
The Tigers may also look to improve their spot in the draft order on the night through live trading of picks.
Key Position Power:
It's hard to see the Tigers not opting to at least consider selecting one or more key position players of some sort at the draft, whether it be a tall forward to help ease along Riewoldt's imminent transition to retirement, a ruckman to aid co-captain Toby Nankervis, or another tall defender to slot in alongside Dylan Grimes, Nick Vlastuin, Robbie Tarrant, Noah Balta, Gibcus, and the emerging and versatile Miller.
Despite modest early returns on the 2021 Tarrant trade, the ex-Roo noticeably improved as the season progressed, eventually becoming a cornerstone member of Richmond's backline, especially after a number of injuries to key Tigers defenders threatened to derail their 2022 season.
Therefore, with the Richmond backline appearing considerably set, for the time being, the attention turns back to the future of the yellow-and-black forward line, and the matter of finding another power forward to partner with spearhead goalkicker Tom Lynch.
It's fairly clear to most that Riewoldt's 2023 campaign will be the last of his successful and storied career, and with the lack of depth after himself and Lynch, considering a key forward with one of Richmond's three picks should be at the front of list boss Blair Hartley's mind.
Among the Tigers' current tall-forward crop: swingman Noah Balta, who is objectively better-suited as a defender; Jacob Bauer, whom the Tigers nabbed at this year's Mid-Season Draft; raw ruck-forward Samson Ryan, who has looked like a deer in headlights during his limited time in the spotlight; and back-up ruckman Ivan Soldo, who does not possess the requisite physical traits to be a leading key forward, and who was the subject of trade speculation when the Tigers were dealing with the Giants a month ago.
The issue for the Tigers is if he is taken before they're on the clock at No. 53, as Lemmey's range could extend to the opening half of the second round.
However, the injuries Lemmey has suffered since he burst onto the SANFL scene in 2021 may work in Richmond's favour if he slides to the 50s.
James Van Es:
If Richmond opts for a key defender, Van Es could be somebody the Tigers heavily consider in their pick range.
Like Josh Gibcus, Van Es hails from the Greater Western Victoria Rebels and has put his name forward as one of the better key defender prospects this year.
Also similar to Gibcus, one of Van Es' strongest traits is his intercept marking, which would surely appeal to Hartley and coach Damien Hardwick, who loves intercepting threats (see: Grimes, Vlastuin, Balta, and Alex Rance).
Like his West Adelaide teammate Lemmey, Scully is another leading forward the Tigers could consider in terms of fulfilling their imminent tall-forward need.
Scully, who has a soccer background and appears as more of a raw prospect, kicked 50 goals in the SANFL Under 18s this year and poses as a rangy forward-50 marking target.
The 18-year-old could be a target for Richmond with their second or third selection.