Essendon has regressed this year from their 2021 season which saw the Bombers earn a finals berth, with pressure mounting on second-year senior coach Ben Rutten.

However, amid the doom and gloom of their 2022 campaign, the Dons boast a young and promising list as three youngsters, supplemental selection period recruit Nic Martin, first-round draftee Ben Hobbs and mid-season draftee Massimo D'Ambrosio, achieved Rising Star nominations through 16 rounds.

Over the course of last year's trade and free agency period, Essendon acquired the services of unrestricted free agent defender Jake Kelly from the Crows.

Taking into account Essendon's recent activity during the trade and free agency period and the likelihood of them being key players again this year, we've named five potential targets for the Bombers to consider.

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1. Josh Dunkley

The damaging Bulldogs midfielder has been linked to The Hangar for the better part of two years.

Could this be the year the 25-year-old makes the move?

Dunkley, while a midfield accumulator, can also go forward and hit the scoreboard, which makes him an even more salivating trade prospect for Adrian Dodoro and the Bombers.

Dunkley is a non-free agent as he hasn't served the requisite eight years at the Bulldogs, so a trade would have to be agreed between Essendon and the Dogs.

Josh Dunkley and James Harmes during the 2022 AFL Round 1 match between Melbourne and Western Bulldogs (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)
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