When languishing among the league's bottom sides on the ladder at the bye, few would have predicted Essendon to enter a purple patch that has seen them claim wins over the Saints, Swans and Lions across the course of the past month.
And while the ilk of Zach Merrett, Jordan Ridley and Peter Wright has led each of the Dons' lines with aplomb, the victories over vaunted opposition have also been thatched by the efforts of some 'Baby Bombers'.
At the cessation of Round 16, both Nic Martin and Ben Hobbs held top-six spots within Zero Hanger's Rookie Rankings for the 2022 AFL season. However, after continuing to excite across the defensive third, the pair have been joined by their newest teammate, Massimo D'Ambrosio.
With just over a month until the business end of the season commences, the competition's new kids on the block are set to earn their final handful of chances to impress.
But with a Pies son-of-a-gun growing each week, the best efforts of the chasing pack may only end up landing them silver.
Criteria: For our Rookie Rankings, we are selecting players who have made their debut this season. Other players who may still be eligible for a Rising Star nomination but have already made their debut prior to the 2022 season will not be considered.
VIEW: ROUND 16 RANKINGS
Round 17 Honourable Mentions
Josh Carmichael (Magpies)
14 disposals, 3 tackles, 1 clearance, 0.2
Before what sounded like every member of his wider family packed into the MCG's Olympic Stand, the Mid-Season draftee placed his best foot forward in the Pies' win over the Roos.
Though his pair of shots edged wide, the 22-year-old's lace-out goal assist during the second half gave Collingwood life. Carmichael's efforts to ride tackles and keep the Sherrin moving were equally as impressive.
Though the Tigers were pipped at the post by a Noah Anderson major last Saturday, the 21-year-old took to his offensive post like a duck to water, slotting a brace at Carrara.
Patrick Parnell (Crows)
15 disposals, 2 marks, 2 tackles
While light of frame and fresh of face, the 20-year-old got his hands dirty in an effort to help drag the Crows over the line. Despite not setting the game on fire, Parnell looked composed with ball in hand. One to watch before the season's end.
Jake Soligo (Crows)
13 disposals, 3 clearances, 2 marks
Last week, we mentioned that the Victorian has started seeing more time at the coalface. And with a further three clearances to his name on Sunday, Soligo will be another at West Lakes to keep an eye on.
6. Massimo D'Ambrosio (+1)
Despite not hitting the same heights of other outings across the past month, the consistency shown by the Mid-Season recruit requires rewarding.
With 13 disposals, 6 marks and a clearance to his name, D'Ambrosio may not have starred during the Dons' upset of the Lions but his ability to aid the likes of Brandon Zerk-Thatcher and Jordan Ridley remained integral in the pursuit of victory.
Having walked through the doors at Tullamarine at the exact point the Bombers' fortunes rotated, it is little wonder why the diamond-studded defender is already such a popular name at the Hangar.