Despite being less than a month until the start of the AFL Draft, almost all of the league's 18 clubs will believe their starting line-ups are close to complete

But irrespective of this confidence, every roster still has holes.

Due to the nature of the league, it is almost impossible for two sides to be in exactly the same place, so some of these gaps may be chasmic, whilst others may be wafer-thin.

However, if left unattended, those of any magnitude could lead a side to ruin.


Having silenced almost every talking ahead with their return to the finals in 2021, Essendon appear to have swiftly sewn up many of the perceived holes in their roster.

While their business end drought remains unbroken, Ben Rutten was able to yield bountiful harvests from numerous young names in a plethora of key positions across his debut season.

The mulleted Draper looks to have secured the starting ruck slot for the foreseeable future, Jordan Ridley continued his sharp amelioration, Nick Hind plugged the gap left by Adam Saad, and the combination of Zach Merrett and Darcy Parish truly rose to prominence.

Still, as has been proven across the previous quartet of entries, no list is without its threadbare portions.

AFL Rd 6 - Collingwood v Essendon
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 25: Darcy Parish of the Bombers wins the ANZAC Day medal for best of ground during the round six AFL match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Essendon Bombers at Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 25, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos/via Getty Images )

Although 10 Bombers finished their latest seasons with 10 or more goals, recent mutterings, advances and rejections suggest that the Tullamarine team feel as though they’re still lacking another short threat in front of the big sticks.

Despite Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti slotting 34 goals across his sixth season in a red sash, the dreadlocked dynamo’s closest petite competitor came in the form of Alec Waterman with 17.

While this gap in conversion tells us that the midfielders (99 goals), tall forwards (112) and defenders (18) also played roles in designing the Don’s scoreboard maneuvers, the unsuccessful pursuit of Ian ‘Bobby’ Hill proves that the club believes further weaponry must be added to the modern-day mosquito fleet which generated 67 straight kicks.

Irrespective of Adrian Dodoro’s rebuked bids, this signal of intent showed that the side whose scoring avenues dried up during their elimination-final defeat had a desire to put the past behind them.

Though the Bombers’ front-six will take on a remarkably similar complexion to last season, the Hanger hangers should be commended for their want to accelerate past the crime scene in Launceston rather than just rest on the laurels that brought them there.

LAUNCESTON, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 29: Aaron Francis of the Bombers leads Essendon off the field during the 2021 AFL First Elimination Final match between the Western Bulldogs and the Essendon Bombers at University of Tasmania Stadium on August 29, 2021 in Launceston, Australia. (Photo by Grant Viney/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Even though fellow opposition sides would be pleased with a mean of more than 22 majors from their trio of starting small forwards, given the Bombers aren’t but they can’t have Hill just yet, what is there next move?

Do they sign a delisted free agent to fill the need for a season or two?

Do they go to the same well looking for a permanent fix?

Do they attack the draft and bide their time?

Or do they grit their teeth and crack the same whip as the year before?

Regardless of which option is opted for, if Jake Stringer remains Rutten’s leading goalkicker in 2022, either the pattern of dropping from the eight after sharp rises has been adhered to or the former Bulldog has landed himself another All-Australian blazer.

‘The Package’ may not be ‘Truck’s prime choice to claim back-to-back honours, but if the goals happen to flow while the Bombers’ continue to fly up, then I’m sure the former defender won’t be kicking up too much of a fuss about the offensively-minded mid.



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