Richmond were the best team in 2018 until they wobbled late in the season and were ultimately brushed aside by Collingwood in the Preliminary Final.
Despite sitting on top of the ladder for much of the year, some shortcomings were evident throughout the season and the Tigers will need to address a couple of areas if they are to experience the highs of 2017 all over again.
The need for a combative inside midfielder is noticeable after many games in 2018 where the opposition’s best mids won the ball with ease.
An experienced back-up ruckman is also a requirement at Punt Road as the ever evolving nature of playing style in the AFL could again see two big men become a necessity in 2019.
The Tigers should be primed for another crack at September action next season but the list just needs a little bit of cleaning up to assist them in achieving sustained success.
Here’s what their best 22 looks like pre-draft:
FB: Dylan Grimes, David Astbury, Nick Vlastuin
HB: Jayden Short, Alex Rance, Bachar Houli
C: Shaun Grigg, Dustin Martin, Kane Lambert
HF: Shane Edwards, Jack Riewoldt, Josh Caddy
FF: Dan Butler, Tom Lynch, Daniel Rioli
Fol: Toby Nankervis, Trent Cotchin, Dion Prestia
Int: Jason Castagna, Jack Higgins, Jack Graham, Kamdyn McIntosh/Brandon Ellis
Long term needs
The Richmond list is in fairly strong order and their main need was to bring in a quality key forward for the post-Jack Riewoldt years.
They did just that by landing Tom Lynch in the trade period.
There are some stars in the midfield in the form of Dustin Martin, Trent Cotchin and Dion Prestia but they won’t be around forever so it is probably time for the Tigers to bring through a promising on-baller.
Jack Higgins was impressive in his debut season as a small forward who could spend time in the middle but out-and-out ball winners to learn from Martin and Cotchin before eventually filling the void in years to come is a must.
Short term needs
Richmond’s number one ruckman Toby Nankervis needed assistance during the 2018 season and it became apparent late in proceedings that the Shaun Grigg experiment was beginning to wane.
So with that in mind, perhaps an experienced back-up big man could be added to the list in case of emergency.
Former Fremantle Dockers ruckman Zac Clarke had a stellar season in the WAFL with Subiaco and with 101 AFL games up his sleeve, could be a handy addition, but that scenario was floated last year and the Tigers opted against.
There could also be a need for a run-with type midfielder for when the opposition get on top in the centre of the ground. Jack Graham has been tried occasionally in that role but a disciplined, elite runner would be handy.
Draft picks: 17, 37, 64, 68, 74, 92
Who could they target?
The Tigers will go after a strong-bodied midfielder with their first pick and it could come in the form of either Riley Collier-Dawkins or Liam Stocker.
Impressive Oakleigh Chargers mid Collier-Dawkins plays in a comparable way to Carlton’s Patrick Cripps. He is the type of player Richmond would welcome with open arms after ranking well down in contested ball in 2018.
Similarly, Sandringham Dragons star Stocker is a ball-winning midfielder who is ready-made for senior footy. He won the Morrish Medal this year and would be rated as a higher pick if he didn’t suffer a broken jaw which made him unavailable for Vic Metro selection.
South Australian captain Luke Valente also fits the bill and is sure to be on Richmond’s radar.
You’d expect the Tigers to have their eye on a midfielder first before topping up in other areas later in the draft with a mix of kids and state league players.