After being written off by many following a 15th place finish in 2017, North Melbourne defied the odds to finish just outside the top eight last year – doubling their tally of wins to 12 in the process.
The breakout seasons of Hawthorn recruit Jed Anderson and former GWS midfielder Paul Ahern were obvious highlights, as was the emergence of Majak Daw in his new role as an intercept defender.
Another positional change that worked wonders for coach Brad Scott was the deployment of captain Jack Ziebell up forward, booting a career-best 35 goals to add increased potency to the forward line.
Spearhead Ben Brown was a colossus for the Roos booting 61 majors, including four or more on 10 occasions, while Shaun Higgins earned a maiden All-Australian appearance thanks to a career-best season.
The additions of Aaron Hall, Dom Tyson, Jared Polec and Jasper Pittard in the trade period will no doubt deepen North’s stocks as they press for a finals berth in 2019.
Here’s what their best 22 looks like pre-draft:
B: Scott Thompson, Robbie Tarrant, Marley Williams
HB: Jared Polec, Majak Daw, Jamie Macmillan
C: Aaron Hall, Ben Jacobs, Trent Dumont
HF: Shaun Atley, Mason Wood, Jy Simpkin
F: Cameron Zurhaar, Ben Brown, Jack Ziebell
FOLL: Todd Goldstein, Ben Cunnington, Shaun Higgins
Int: Dom Tyson, Luke Davies-Uniacke, Paul Ahern, Jed Anderson
Following the departure of Braydon Preuss to Melbourne, North has to look closely at finding a successor to number one ruckman Todd Goldstein.
Goldstein will be 31 in July and his contract is set to expire at the end of the 2019 season, so a promising ruckman would be a priority for the Kangaroos moving forward.
As will a young key defender with defensive stalwart Scott Thompson (32) coming towards the end of his career while partner-in-crime Robbie Tarrant (29) isn’t getting any younger.
The class and poise of Higgins (30) will also need replacing down the track.
After successfully addressing the need for outside speed through the midfield, the attention turns to a replacement for retired forward Jarrad Waite.
Talented tall Mason Wood is the obvious candidate to fulfil the role, but queries over his fitness and inconsistency remain an issue.
The 25-year-old has shown he is capable of producing at senior level and the Roos will be banking on Wood to provide the adequate foil for leading goalkicker Brown.
Draft picks: 42, 47, 48, 49, 55, 58, 86
Who could they target?
Despite not having the strongest hand heading into the draft, North Melbourne could still come out big winners if they land a Next Generation Academy talent.
Exciting teenager Tarryn Thomas could end up at North as he qualifies to join the club from their Tasmanian zone.
With 1677 draft points up their sleeve, the Roos are well placed to match a rival bid for Thomas on draft night.
AFL.com.au draft expert Cal Towmey says the Indigenous prospect, who comes from a rugby background, plays as a midfielder who can push forward and hit the scoreboard, while also possessing an appetite to apply tackling pressure.
Father-son prospect Joel Crocker – the son of premiership player Darren - is being lined up by North, as is Bailey Scott – the son of former midfielder Robert.