Fremantle have made huge strides in the past two seasons, particularly in 2022, when they showed that their exciting list stacks up against the best.
While it's a squad with massive upside, there remains a strong blend of experience to lead the way.
Coach Justin Longmuir has proven to be an astute football mind and has so far, along with his assistants, done an impressive job with developing the array of young talent at their disposal while ensuring that not too much critical experience was jettisoned.
The Dockers started season 2022 like a house on fire, winning ten of their first thirteen games. They announced themselves as the real deal in a comprehensive manner, beating reigning premiers Melbourne in May, before backing it up a week later when knocking off the Lions.
While they loom as the real deal, they were bundled out of the finals by a red-hot Collingwood in week two. Having had a taste of September, it's hard to see them regressing this season given the amount of quality at Cockburn.
Andrew Brayshaw established himself as one of the competition's best midfielders while Caleb Serong continues to impress and is inching closer to becoming a star in his own right. Down back, Hayden Young has become one of the best young defenders in the AFL.
Having lost Griffin Logue, Blake Acres and Rory Lobb, there are openings in the senior team lineup. Similarly, the loss of depth players like Lloyd Meek and Darcy Tucker will create openings for some of their highly-touted youngsters to press their claims.
The trade for Luke Jackson will make up for Lobb's absence if he can develop his forward craft. It's also hoped the recent acquisitions of Jaeger O'Meara and Josh Corbett will prove to be shrewd moves from a club that has rebuilt their squad to little fanfare but on closer inspection, looks efficient and methodical.
Away from the trade table, Fremantle have nailed their top picks at the draft, with Serong (pick 8) and Brayshaw (pick 2) having already paid dividends. Serong by winning the Rising Star award and Brayshaw by finishing 4th in the Brownlow in 2022 with 25 votes and looming as the next club captain.
Likewise the selections of Henry (pick 9) and Young (pick 7), with Henry likely to spend time on the wing this season and Young reportedly taking his game to another level this pre-season.
With an even younger crop from the 2021 draft said to be impressing internally in the forms of Jye Amiss, Neil Erasmus and Matthew Johnson, the Dockers look well-stocked for a sustained assault on the top four.
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So the question then becomes; Where can they improve? There are still areas for concern that could be exposed by the likes of Geelong, particularly in the forward line, while they would not refuse midfield reinforcements given Nat Fyfe is likely to spend a lot more time inside forward 50.
Here are four options we think the Dockers could use to turn themselves into genuine premiership contenders. Bear in mind that these are not just out-of-contract players but rather candidates with traits that may be on the Fremantle wish list.
1. Jordan De Goey
With Nat Fyfe's body having worn the brunt of the Fremantle midfield for years, not to mention the loss of the brilliant David Mundy, the need for a new explosive midfield bull has become apparent. Jordan De Goey fits the bill.
While Brayshaw, Serong and Brodie are all fantastic players, they don't have Fyfe's raw power or explosiveness away from stoppages. De Goey has both, and at 26 is now in his prime. Yes, they now have O'Meara, who is a model professional and a very good player, but he lacks the ability to explode out of stoppages.
As the modern-day hybrid mid-forward, De Goey has the inside grunt and outside speed to hurt the opposition. In season 2022, he averaged 20.8 disposals, 3.5 tackles, 0.9 goals, 5.1 clearances and 4.4 inside 50s per game.
Yet with De Goey, it's less about his stats and more his influence on big games in critical moments. This is a player who looked like an outside chance for the Norm Smith Medal in 2018 at just 22 years of age when he slotted his third goal on the run at the start of the last quarter. In fact, all of his goals that day were of the highest quality and on the biggest stage of all.
Despite the headlines, De Goey remains one of the most damaging players in the AFL and could fill a void in the Fremantle midfield for several years yet until the next generation of Docker midfielders are ready to take the mantle.