2021 marked the end of an historic era at Hawthorn.

The best coach of the modern era and one of the greatest of all time, Alastair Clarkson said farewell to the brown and gold. Joining Clarkson, legend Shaun Burgoyne walked into retirement after 407 games at the elite level.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 22: Hawks head coach Alastair Clarkson (R) celebrates the win with Hawks President Jeff Kennett during the round 18 AFL match between the Carlton Blues and the Hawthorn Hawks at Etihad Stadium on July 22, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

With two stalwarts of the club gone, favourite son Sam Mitchell will take the reigns as the clubs senior coach.

In what was a promising back end of the season, the young Hawks finished in 14th place on the ladder after going 3-1-2 over the last six-weeks of the season.

Currently possessing three selections in the first two rounds, Hawthorn could be crafty inside the early stage of the National Draft as they look to replenish their stocks.

Draft hand

Picks: 5, 21, 24, 59, 65, 81
Draft Points: 3789

Boasting three picks inside the top-24 is a strong position to be in. Still, these selections will be pushed back due to father-son and academy selections.

Having two selections close to each other at the start of the second-round, gives Hawthorn an opportunity to trade up if the opportunity presented itself.

List Needs

Hawthorn is most likely to select with the strategy of 'best available' when they are on the clock, however, they do have a couple of positional needs moving forward.

Outside midfielder: A pressing need for the Hawks is that of some outside run in the engine room.

Currently in the midfield mix at Hawthorn are elite ball winners and big bodies Tom Mitchell, Jaeger O'meara and James Worpel.

Selecting a silky outside runner with good foot skills would act as the perfect compliment to these names.

If the Hawks are able to draft a player of this mould, it will also allow Chad Wingard to spend his time almost exclusively inside the forward 50.

Under the tutelage of new head coach Sam Mitchell, any midfielder who walks through the doors at Waverley Park in 2022 will be in good hands.

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA - SEPTEMBER 06: Tom Mitchell of the Hawks runs with the ball from Dion Prestia of the Tigers during the AFL First Qualifying Final match between the Richmond Tigers and the Hawthorn Hawks at Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 6, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Key defender:

If the Hawks are able to find another key defender for the future, they may just about have their back six rebuilt.

During the off-season last year, the Hawks went and got Adelaide big man Kyle Hartigan to fill a key post in defence. Now 30 years of age, Hartigan doesn't exactly fit the age bracket of the Hawks rebuild.

RELATED: The holes in Hawthorn's list ahead of the draft

With their first pick in the 2020 draft, the Hawks selected Denver Grainger-Barass at pick 6. Standing at 195cm, Grainger-Barrass was seen as the premier tall defender in that draft class.

The emergence of Will Day and Changkuoth Jiath as rebounding half-backs poses an exciting future in the defensive 50. Whilst the return of James Sicily from an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury will fill the role of the interceptor and third tall down back.

A partner for Denver Grainger-Barass should be a priority in the National Draft.

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Ideal Recruits

Josh Ward: With Finn Callaghan likely to be snapped up before the Hawks get a chance, Josh Ward is the next best midfield prospect.

Ward is a versatile midfielder who can both win his own ball and distribute once on the outside. To go with this, the Northern Knights product ran the quickest 2km time trial amongst potential draftees.

RELATED: Draft Profile: Josh Ward

His elite endurance would allow him to play in an array of positions at AFL level. As mentioned, Ward could be a perfect complimentary piece for Hawthorn and their big-bodied inside mids.

A cherry on top for Ward saw him named as the captain in the NAB League Team of the Year after a terrific season where he averaged 25.2 disposals, 5.2 marks and 4.8 tackles per game.

Ward has already drawn comparisons to Sam Walsh and Andrew Gaff.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 10: Josh Ward of the Knights kicks during the NAB League Boys match between the Northern Knights and the Sandringham Dragons at Preston City Oval on April 10, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Grimes/AFL Photos)

Jacob Van Rooyen: With one of their early second round selections, the Hawks could look at picking swingman Jacob Van Rooyen.

Predicted to go late in the first round or early the second round, Hawthorn could even decide to trade up the order if they had their sights set on the talent.

Coming out of Claremont in Western Australia, Van Rooyen is touted as the best swingman in this draft pool.

RELATED: Draft Profile: Jacob Van Rooyen

With an identified need for a key defender, van Rooyen could fill that roll along with pinch hitting up forward if the Hawks were to pull the trigger on the Claremont product in the National Draft.

Likened to fellow key position swingmen Oscar Allan and Aaron Naughton, Van Rooyen impressed in the under-19 Western Australia v South Australia representative match. It was here that he played in defence for the majority of the game before sneaking forward to kick the winning major late in the game.

His major strengths include his contested marking, versatility and competitiveness.

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)

Rhett Bazzo: Another key position player for the Hawks to consider in Rhett Bazzo.

Similar to Van Rooyen, Bazzo played at both ends of the ground in 2021. He is tipped to be selected towards the end of the second round or into the third round.

Bazzo could be a real value selection for Hawthorn.

His aerial work is a highlight of his game, while his use by foot is also impressive for a player of his mould.

RELATED: The top Western Australian prospects from the 2021 AFL Draft 

The Western Australian enhanced his name during the WAFL Colts Grand Final. After Jacob Van Rooyen booted three first quarter goals. Bazzo got the matchup and only conceded one major for the rest of the contest.

His good performances in big matches are also a great indicator of his mature temperament.

If Bazzo is available where the Hawks see fit, he could well Grainger-Barass' defensive partner for the next decade and change.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 22: Rhett Bazzo in action during the NAB AFL Academy training session at Gosch’s Paddock on April 22, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos)