2023 AFLW Draft preview: Essendon

ESSENDON brought in a premiership Dee, a top young talent and a speedy Sun as the Bombers look to build on their first ever finals appearance in the AFL Women’s. Though the red and black did have to move on a number of players, the Bombers focused on bringing in more experience over the off-season to further strengthen their list.


In: Amy Gaylor (pre-listed), Bess Keaney, Maddison Gay (traded), Pick 19, Pick 37, Pick 72
Out: Jess Wuetschner (retired), Alana Barba, Leah Cutting, Joanne Doonan, Renee Tierney (delisted), Pick 13, Pick 33, Pick 53

Draft Selections: 19, 37, 71, 72

Essendon brought in highly touted Calder Cannons speedster Amy Gaylor who is incredibly clean and strong at the coalface, with the one-touch lefty a player with room for growth after an injury-interrupted 2023 season. Maddison Gay and Bess Keaney both add extra experience to the side, and will be important in the Bombers’ drive to go deeper in November. From the retirements and delistings, they cover various areas of the ground, predominantly being forward which might be a focus for Essendon.


Essendon ended up only picking up the one pre-listed player in Gaylor, which could be down to list management numbers. Given the departures in the forward half of the ground, Bendigo Pioneers and Vic Country small forward Lila Keck seems like a perfect fit at the Bombers. She exudes confidence and X-Factor inside 50, and loves a celebration like another young Bomber in Paige Scott.

Essendon might look to bid on Evie Long as a tall option inside 50, boasting athleticism and she has nominated nationally though is tied to the Lions Academy. Tasmanian forward Georgia Clark does not have hat athleticism but her has velcro hands and a powerful kick at around 173cm. Geelong Falcons midfielder Chloe Adams is another readymade midfielder who could hep the Bombers, while Sandringham Dragons tall Emily Gough provides height and versatility largely in the defensive half of the ground.


Essendon might end up with just the two picks, but do have back-to-back picks in the early 70s which depending on list numbers could top up needs with mature-age talent. Focusing on Pick 37, the Bombers will play the waiting game for what could be available, though Gippsland Power speedster Amber Schutte is a potential choice as a running half-back. She will be in the mix around that selection, as would athletic Tasmanian Jasmyn Thompson who could fill a number of roles.

Eastern Ranges explosive defender/midfielder Georgia Stubs might also come into play, while fellow athletic half-back Lucy Cronin has good size at 177cm and can provide run down the ground. Reliable backs Ava Campbell and Johanna Sunderland also fit that bill, while in attack, dangerous defensive forward Lily Jordan is a name to watch if the Bombers opt for a tall with their first selection.

A stack of Essendon VFLW players have also nominated for the AFLW Draft, with the likes of ex-Tiger Sophie Molan, tall utility Bella Clarke and over-age small Reese Sutton all among those opting to nominate nationally.


Essendon has added quality to its list without needing to trade out any players and is looking comfortable heading into the AFLW Draft. Though the Bombers draft hand is not as strong as past seasons, they can still pick up a quality player with their first selection and eye off needs after that. From a sheer list perspective, the Bombers look to be stronger than the team that reached the Season 8 finals series this year.

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