The Western Bulldogs' draft plans are likely to see a pair of top-rated prospects make their way to Footscray during the first night of the National Draft.
The Dogs coughed up a trio of first-round picks during the trade period to not only increase their place in the queue but also prepare for a likely father-son bid later into the opening round.
2023 will see the Bulldogs carry a top five pick into the draft for the first time in a decade, with 2013 seeing Marcus Bontempelli head to the Kennel at Pick 4.
Father-son prospect Jordan Croft, son of ex-Dog Matthew, is set to add to the rich history of F/S selections that have made their way to the Bulldogs while also linking up with the recent key position priority access selections of Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Sam Darcy.
With a long selection of picks and their first coming in the top five, here's how the Bulldogs' draft plans for 2023 could play out...
Picks: 5, 48, 50, 52, 53, 56, 69, 72, 75, 90
The Dogs' draft hand is expected to look significantly different by the end of the opening night of the count, with a bid for Croft set to see a range of selections from 48 onwards dissolved.
That matched selection is anticipated to come midway through the first round, with a bid at, let's say Pick 15, requiring the Bulldogs to cough up 889.6 draft points (1112 points before a 20 per cent discount on matched bids).
That would then require Picks 48, 50, 52 and 53 (total points: 1,054) to be used, with the leftover points to see the remaining hand strengthened a touch.
The Bulldogs will then have the option of selecting a prospect who remains available late into the piece, or could trade their way back into the higher end of the order if a suitor emerges.
The Dogs will be mindful of Next Generation Academy talent Luamon Lual, who has a small chance of sliding past the Pick 40 mark and into the Bulldogs' lap.
The Footscray-based club will come away with one of the top five available teenagers and Croft, with any addition set to sweeten a promising draft for list manager Sam Power and his team.
Midfield Depth: At first glance, the Bulldogs are stacked with midfield stars given the likes of Marcus Bontempelli, Tom Liberatore, Jack Macrae and Bailey Smith, among others, but future planning in the engine room is needed, especially given the clouded future of Smith. Liberatore will be 32 early into next season and has limited time left in the top flight, despite his workhorse standing at Whitten Oval. The Dogs will look to address what their midfield ensemble will look like in four or five years' time when Liberatore is gone and Bontempelli and Macrae are nearing the end too.
Forward Spark: The Dogs have the tall timber for a premiership pursuit, with Aaron Naughton locked away long-term and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan likely to also recommit for the future. Sam Darcy is waiting in the wings as a versatile key-position talent, while the aforementioned Croft is another key forward to add to the list. But at their feet is a void that needs addressing, with a crumbing forward to work alongside Cody Weightman an area the Dogs could look toward at the draft. With another half-forward or forward pocket to hold a role in Luke Beveridge's best 22, the Dogs will then have their forward third settled for the long haul.
Outside Run: The Dogs have the stars at the coalface in midfield, but more support on the flanks to complement their centre contested work might be an avenue to head down. Ed Richards is blossoming into an astute ball winner and user, with a corresponding talent that can work up and down the field the other side of the field perhaps ideal for the Dogs. They have handed second chances to Caleb Poulter and Oskar Baker over the last 12 months, while Harvey Gallagher is another name to watch, but more wing or flank options will be considered no doubt.
Ryley Sanders: The 2023 Larke Medal winner is one name the Bulldogs will be strongly considering with their opening selection at Pick 5. Sanders helped lead the Allies to a maiden National Championships title this year and also held a starring role in Sandringam's premiership campaign. His contested work and ball-winning nous would be an exciting addition that could soon see the midfield baton handed down at the Kennel. Fellow Tasmanian Colby McKercher is another onballer who could be in consideration at Pick 5 if available.
Nick Watson: At just 170cm, Watson is arguably the most skilful and cunning prospect this year's class has to offer. His eye for goal and cleanliness both at ground level and in the air will surprise many, and he could be the man the Dogs take at Pick 5. The potential combination of Watson and Weightman at the feet of Naughton, Ugle-Hagan, Darcy and Croft is a tantalising prospect that is sure to excite Bulldogs fans and cause nerves for the opposition.
Jordan Croft: The Calder Cannons key forward looms as a likely top 20 draft selection after a strong year in the Talent League and a further three appearances with Vic Metro. His dominant ability in the air and clean kicking will only add to the club's already strong spine, with Croft to be afforded time to develop and better his craft before being thrust onto the big stage.
Will Lorenz: A name to consider late into the draft for the Bulldogs, with the Boroondara junior an exciting wing/half-forward who uses his speed and aerobic capacity to see out contests at a high standard. Featured for the AFL Academy this year and was among the best testers at the Draft Combine for the 20m sprint and 2km time trial. WA's Aiden O'Driscoll is another outside mover who could be on the Dogs' radar with their third selection of the night.