HOBART, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 17: Samuel Banks of the Tasmania Devils contests the ball during the NAB Leagues match between Tasmania and Eastern Ranges at Kingston Twin Ovals on April 17, 2021 in Hobart, Australia. (Photo by Steve Bell/AFL Photos)

New Carlton coach Michael Voss put pen to paper to take over one of the game's most exciting spines before the sudden retirement of Liam Jones left a gaping hole down back.

Jones' departure opens the possibility of a new area for the Blues to attend to on draft night with the trade period done and dusted.

However, the Blues have the cattle within their four walls to cover the loss of Jones, especially if Voss can implement a solid team defence. So if not key defenders, what do the Blues need to look for on draft night?

Draft Hand

Picks: 25, 63, 78
Draft Points: 868

For a second straight year, the Blues traded away their first-round selection, parting with Pick 5 for star midfielder Adam Cerra. Carlton have firmly turned their attention to ready-made talent in recent seasons having spent a number of years replenishing their list through the draft.

,It is possible the Blues will only take two new players in the National Draft with their first pick not until the second night of the draft and coming midway through the second round.

With NGA and father-son bids set to take place throughout both nights of the draft, Carlton's picks are set to be shuffled back and forth throughout the proceedings.

List Needs

Small defender:
While many believe replacing Liam Jones is the biggest issue for Carlton's backline, the lack of a medium-sized lockdown defender is perhaps of greater concern to Nick Austin and his team.

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Having relied on Lachie Plowman in recent years to play on much faster and slicker opponents, the Blues were exposed when Plowman was suspended and injured in the middle of 2020.

However, even with Plowman, the Blues have been troubled by small forwards over recent years with no answer to a dominant forward pocket.

Wingman:
Lochie O'Brien is set to be re-drafted as a rookie, with the Mildura running machine set to be entering a make-or-break season. Jack Newnes has filled the wing role decently in patches for the Blues but isn't the long-term answer.

Carlton need a reliable winger who can run both ways all day long. Also one with perhaps a bit of size as well. Some of the league's best players in the position are hovering around 185cm-190cm.

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O'Brien may still turn out to be the player Carlton had hoped for when drafting him with Pick 10 in 2017, but they need at least one more player to fill the role with Newnes and Matt Cottrell unlikely to be the answers going forward.

Key Defender:
Even before the loss of Liam Jones, the key defensive post was an are the Blues perhaps needed some more depth in. Levi Casboult has departed the club, while Oscar McDonald, Caleb Marchbank and Luke Parks haven't yet proven their ability to take on the game's big forwards.

Lewis Young's recruitment is looking more shrew by the day and while he will likely replace Jones in the lineup come Round 1, the Blues still need at least one more true key defender.

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Mitch McGovern has been suggested as a possible mover down back but it remains to be seen if Voss would like to give McGovern, Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay the chance to play together up forward.

Small Forward:
Maybe not a crucial need for the Blues but another small forward wouldn't go astray. Matt Owies, Josh Honey and Corey Durdin will all battle for a spot in the forward pocket with Zac Fisher another who may continue in the role.

But small forwards are hard to come by, so if they can snare one with one of their later picks it may add further competition for the aforementioned goalsneaks.

Ideal Recruits

Darcy Wilmot:
A medium defender who can launch attacks through his intercept game, Wilmot has the tools to either allow Plowman to play small or tall more permanently. He averaged 15.1 disposals for Northern Knights in 2021 and showed tremendous skill with the ball.

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He was terrific in Victoria Metro's win over Victoria Country at under-19s level in July, and was ultimately rewarded for his form with selection in the NAB League Team of the Year.

Sam Banks:
The Tasmanian defender would be of great interest to the Blues, with his ability to lock down small forwards a desirable trait at Ikon Park.

With some development, Banks also holds the ability to move up onto a wing or into the midfield, with the wing a spot the Blues would be keen to get some continuity in.

Being able to fill multiple voids is a great asset the Blues will need to consider on draft night should Banks be available when the Blues make their call.

His strengths are decision making, kicking and athleticism, with those traits making him such a damaging prospect with ball-in-hand and are big ticks in the eyes of recruiters.

Judson Clarke:
Labelled as one of the quickest players in the draft pool, Clarke is a natural goal kicker who can apply tremendous pressure on the ball when defending.

That can be crucial for the Blues, who need to defend from higher up the ground than what they did in 2021.

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He isn't the total package just yet, but Clarke has plenty of attractive assets that will catch the eye of recruiters. His ability to kick a goal from nothing and create for those around him is a priceless attribute.