PERTH, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 28: Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera of South Australia in action during the NAB AFL U19 Championships game between Western Australia and South Australia at Mineral Resources Park on August 28, 2021 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

The Saints are in an interesting position heading into the Draft. Having disappointed in 2021, the need to have a good result on draft night has become paramount.

This is purely down to one factor. The Saints list is, mostly, in the prime of their careers. The bulk of the club's key players are between the ages of 22 and 28.

With questions over the age of the playing group, the need to replenish with youth has become apparent. It's not too dissimilar to the situation that the Demons found themselves in a few years ago.

Under pressure following their regression to second bottom the year after making a preliminary final, the Dees drafted Luke Jackson and Kysaiah Pickett in the first round. The rest is history.

HOBART, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 22: Jack Steele of the Saints leads the team out during the 2021 AFL Round 23 match between the St Kilda Saints and the Fremantle Dockers at Blundstone Arena on August 22, 2021 in Hobart, Australia. (Photo by Grant Viney/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

It seems as though the Saints have been irrelevant on draft night for a couple of years, having recruited heavily via free agency and the trade period. This year will be different.

With star captain Jack Steele still just 25 years old, much hope will be placed on the shoulders of youngsters Hunter Clark, Nick Coffield, Max King and Jack Higgins. While the club is well aware of the need to add quality youth to their ranks.

In the past few years, the Saints have had few high picks. Particularly since list manager James Gallagher took over, with Max King is the only top 10 pick the clubs has had in that time.

Having said that, Gallagher has done well with very little. He plucked Cal Wilkie and Tom Highmore from obscurity with picks all outside the top 35, while Cooper Sharman was recruited via the Mid-Season Draft.

Related: Draft focus: Richmond

Draft Hand

Picks: 9, 55, 61, 65, 66, 81
Draft Points:
1981

The Saints will enter the draft with plenty to do. Aside from the need to secure a top end talent, they'll also be keen to add NGA prospects to their squad. The wrinkle there being that, at least one of them is rated by some as a late first-round selection.

The Saints will need to decide on the night if they roll the dice, or trade down to secure what they need.

List Needs

Key Defender:
Having lost Jake Carlisle, James Frawley, Dylan Roberton and Oscar Clavarino this season, a tall defender is crucial to their plans. With just Dougal Howard to call on as a genuine key defender, this looms as their most pressing need.

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However, with so few quality tall defenders in this year's draft, the Saints can afford to opt for best available.

Related: Draft focus: Collingwood

Efficient Ball User:
The Saints are, in general, shocking by foot, so a classy midfielder would appeal. Their disposal has cost them games, and possibly, finals.

Not only is this an issue in front of goal, it's a huge problem for their game plan. The Saints are built to run and gun, attacking in waves.

However, this all falls apart if the ball gets turned over and they get killed on the counter. The Saints will be desperate to draft an elite user by foot.

Youth and Depth:
Having delisted the likes of Luke Dunstan, Jack Lonie and the aforementioned Clavarino, the Saints are now short on depth and experience.

The club will look to get more games into the likes of Sharman, Ryan Byrnes, Leo Connelly and Jack Bytel, but they will also need another crop of youngsters to come in and create competition.

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 14: Cooper Sharman of the Saints celebrates a goal with Tim Membrey of the Saints during the 2021 AFL Round 22 match between the Geelong Cats and the St Kilda Saints at GMHBA Stadium on August 14, 2021 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Though they have a weak draft hand, the Saints do have the potential to end up with three top 35 prospects.

Ideal Recruits

Josh Gibcus (Key Defender)
Gibcus would best fit the club's needs. He's clearly the best tall defender in the pool and would add a crucial piece to the Saints' squad.

Given the club's unclear planning surrounding Josh Battle, Gibcus could give the Saints greater clarity in their defensive planning.

Being the most talented key backman in his class, Gibcus may not be available at Pick 9, given several clubs ahead of the Saints, namely Gold Coast, GWS, Fremantle and Richmond, will all consider him strongly.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 27: Joshua Gibcus of Vic Country handballs during the U19 trial match between Vic Metro and Vic Country on June 27, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Martin Keep/AFL Photos)

Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (Wingman)
Wanganeen-Milera is rated as the best kick in the draft. A good size for a wingman, he excels in tight areas, finding space and delivering the ball beautifully. The silky midfield/forward would add class to a Saints squad in desperate need of it.

No doubt developing star Max King would love to have better delivery. The Saints could do a lot worse than pick the young South Australian, however at Pick 9, he would be considered a slider in the draft.

Josh Sinn (Half-Back/Midfielder)
Similar to Wanganeen-Milera, Sinn is an elite kick with pace to burn, and the Saints are understood to have shown interest in the Dragons jet.

A rebounding defender who can play in the midfield, his line-breaking speed and kicking are thought to attract the Saints. Touted as a potential top three pick at the start of the season, injuries have seen him slide. He would be ideal for the Saints.

Michito Owens (Midfielder)
Part of the Saints' NGA Academy, Owens has flown up draft boards late in the year. After impressing many with his form, the main question appears to be over where he will fall on the draft board.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 27: Mitch Owens of Vic Metro marks the ball during the U19 trial match between Vic Metro and Vic Country on June 27, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Martin Keep/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Related: Draft focus: Gold Coast

Capable of playing as an intercept defender, Owens also has the engine to play as a tall midfielder or even on the wing. There's talk that some clubs value him inside the top 20 so the Saints will be hoping this doesn't eventuate.

Marcus Windhager (Midfielder)
Also part of the NGA academy, Windhager was rated as a potential top 20 pick, only to have injury curtail his year.

An explosive midfielder capable of powering away from a contest or through a tackle, he is a two-way midfielder that could provide support for Steele. A recent back injury means that it's likely he'll receive a bid prior to pick 20, allowing the Saints to match.

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