List summary:

Essendon’s list severely underperformed this year. Saad, Smith and Stringer were three great additions to their team’s best 22 but the Bombers regressed on 2017’s finals appearance. The positive to that is there is a clear upside to the Dons.

Biggest list issue is clearly the midfield, specifically clearance players. The Dons have good general mids like Zaharakis, Heppell, Merrett and Smith but lack a prolific stoppage player. Kyle Langford or Darcy Parrish might become that eventually but they’re not quite there yet.

You could argue that outside of the on-ball division the Essendon list is in good shape otherwise. A ruck that could take over from Bellchambers when he retires in case ex-soccer player Sam Draper isn’t ready could be an area the Dons might look at this off-season.

List changes:

Essendon have delisted veteran Brendon Goddard, Jackson Merrett and goal-sneak Josh Green.

Draft picks: 

Essendon hold national draft picks 8, 32, 64, 82, 100 and 118.

Draft target: 

Big bodied South Australian midfielder Jackson Hately could be a perfect fit for Essendon. Hately is 190cm and 81kg and could be ready to play from round one next year. Hately is strong over the ball and difficult to beat in the air. He would add real size to the Dons midfield.

Trade targets: 

Essendon are being proactive in trying to solve their midfield woes chasing GWS’s Will Setterfield. The big bodied midfielder is coming off an ACL injury and the Giants could be willing to trade him for cap relief. Jack Martin has been in list manager Adrian Dodoro’s sights also but it would take a huge offering for the Gold Coast to give up one of their potential marquee stars.

Best case scenario: 

Dylan Shiel does a backflip and nominates the Dons as his club of choice. Would add instant clearance bursting power to Essendon.