Vic Metro players Josh Ward (Left) and Darcy Wilmot (Right) at Trevor Barker Oval, 2021 (Photo: Mitchell Keating - Zero Digital Media)

The Lions will enter 2022 knowing another finals fumble could cost them a prolonged place atop the premiership standings.

Three successive September slots have seen Brisbane come to no avail despite their upper-hand holdings on the ladder, with question marks beginning to arise as to whether the Queenslanders can go the distance.

With a handful of key role players reaching the final years of their spell in the AFL, the Lions are sure to look to the draft and best utilise their strong handful of picks to aid the depth of their youthful stocks and extend their place toward the summit of the league.

Draft hand

Picks: 14, 18, 41, 60, 76, 90
Draft Points: 2704

The Lions enter Wednesday night with two selections for the opening round, carrying their own selection from this season (Pick 14) and the Demons' selection (Pick 180 following a pick swap in last year's trade window.

After missing the second round, the Lions will feature early in the third bracket with Pick 41, which will be shifted back and forth in the queue following father-son and Academy bids early in the proceedings.

Picks 60, 76 and 90 are also set to increase their place in the order following the result of priority selections.

Collectively, the Lions hold a strong hand that is sure to offer them plenty of options both early and late, with plenty of their planning to surround the outcome of others.

AFL Rd 2 - Geelong v Brisbane
GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 26: Joe Daniher of the Lions and Chris Fagan, Senior Coach of the Lions look dejected after a loss during the 2021 AFL Round 02 match between the Geelong Cats and the Brisbane Lions at GMHBA Stadium on March 26, 2021 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

List needs

Medium defender:
The departure of Grant Birchall, coupled with the ticking clock on Daniel Rich's career, is sure to leave the Lions with some concern in their ball use of out defence for the years to come.

An injection of youth - along with speed and power - into Brisbane's back third could be a defining factor in the Lions extending their premiership window for the foreseeable future.

As seen with Rich's ability to quickly slingshot the Lions into an attack and Brandon Starcevich's lock-down duties, the Lions's medium-sized defensive system is showing plenty of promise when working as a collective.

Swingman:
The Lions will enter Round 1 with forward Eric Hipwood nursing an ACL injury and leaving an expansive void in Brisbane's attack in the air.

With question marks also surrounding the support on offer for defensive architect Harris Andrews, the Lions may look to heighten their key-position stocks in more ways than one.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 25: Eric Hipwood of the Lions celebrates during the 2019 AFL round 23 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Brisbane Lions at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on August 25, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

A versatile option to reinforce stability in either defence or attack would be sure to aid Chris Fagan's in-game restrictions should his side succumb to injury, as seen with Hipwood and Darcy Gardner during this year.

Midfield depth:
As far as their current stocks of top-order onballers, the Lions are no strangers to A-grade talent at their disposal, with the likes of Jarryd Lyons, Lachie Neale and Hugh McCluggage among those sharing their time in the engine room.

The AFL landscape were quick to press the panic button following Neale's reported interest to return to Western Australia, a concept that has not expired and could see the Brownlow medallist depart at the conclusion of his contract in two years time.

While Zac Bailey and Cam Rayner are likely to step up in the absence of one of the aforementioned star midfielders, further depth could be a necessity for Fagan's troops, with veteran pair Dayne Zorko and Mitch Robinson into the twilight of their careers.

AFL Rd 1 - Hawthorn v Brisbane
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 22: Dayne Zorko and his Lions team mates look dejected after losing the round 1 AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Brisbane Lions at Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 22, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Should the pair call time on their careers at the same off-season that Neale ventures back to Perth, the Lions would be left with some missing puzzle pieces to prolong their premiership credentials.

Ideal Recruits

Jacob van Rooyen:
The Western Australia tall is seen as the best option in his class that is capable of having a large impact at either end of the field.

van Rooyen's versatility was on show in the Balck Swans' win over South Australia, where he held a key role in defence for WA before moving forward to boot the match-winning goal.

The Claremont swingman booted 11 goals from his three finals matches for the Tigers this year in the WAFL Colts. Solid numbers when accounting his his shared time in defence.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 10: Jacob Van Rooyen of WA Gold in action during the Western Australia AFL Draft All Stars game between WA Black and WA Gold at Medibank Oval on October 10, 2020 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Framing as a late first-round, early second-round selection - van Rooyen could be on the table for the Lions' second selection on draft night in what would be a best-case-scenario outcome for the Queensland club.

Tom Brown/Darcy Wilmot:
Both Brown and Wilmot are placed among the best medium-sized defenders that can offer a wide range of skills from the backline.

Brown firms as a calculated user of the ball that can give the Lions accurate movement from the defensive 50 and quickly get a transition ignited with his power and speed.

Showing similar attributes to the Bushrangers defender, Wilmot has proven to be an explosive prospect that is capable of locking down threatening forwards and quickly kickstarting counter-attacks for his side.

Both players could slide late into the first round should Brisbane or another interested suitor fancy their chances on draft night.

Vic Metro defender Darcy Wilmot training at Trevor Barker Oval, 2021 (Photo: Mitchell Keating - Zero Digital Media)

Hamish Sinnott:
Another explosive defender, however Sinnott won't demand one of the Lions' early selections, with the GWV Rebel one Brisbane could be keeping an eye on with their late selections.

Has shown great promise in the air and in moving the ball from defence and could work wonders under the development of the aforementioned Rich and Starcevich.

Toby Triffett:
A member of the Lions' Academy that hasn't been nominated ahead of the draft, Brisbane could still look to recruit Triffett late into the draft or as a rookie should he slide long enough.

Impressed in his nine matches with the Lions' VFL side and also topped the QLD Draft Combine results for the 2km Time Trial and Agility Test.

A clean user of the ball and a tenacious two-way midfielder that can lock down the opposition and quickly do damage with ball-in-hand.

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