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PLENTY of focus has been placed on the Brisbane Lions' likely acquisition of tall forward Josh Schache at this year's NAB AFL Draft. 

But later in the first round the Lions are also set to gain another promising tall in Eric Hipwood, a member of the club's academy.

Hipwood's growth as a prospect has been rapid in the past 12 months, having been a late call-up to the NAB AFL Academy squad last year.

The Queenslander played for his state's under-16 side in 2014 as an over-ager and his performances caught the eye. They also set a standard he backed up this year as an important member of Queensland's under-18 division two title-winning team.

After making an impact in defence and attack, Hipwood won selection in the All Australian team and also played a number of games for the Brisbane Lions' NEAFL team, affording him valuable experience. 

With his pace and long reach in the air, Hipwood presents as a unique forward option in this year's draft pool. Both of those traits were on show at the recent NAB AFL Draft Combine, when Hipwood ran 2.97 seconds in the 20-metre sprint and then backed it up to finish in the top-10 for the standing and running vertical jump tests. 

The best thing about the 203cm prospect is his capacity to play at both ends of the ground. Throughout the under-18 championships he was used in defence and occasionally swung forward, including his four-goal haul against Tasmania in Geelong. That day he proved his versatility and brilliance – two of his goals were kicked from tight angles on the boundary line.

Hipwood is agile, uses the ball well on his left side, and loves to run. He can dodge past defenders and catch them out of position, and he enjoys flying for marks and taking things on. He averaged 21 disposals and seven marks a game during the national carnival.

The club that ends up with Hipwood will probably need to be relatively patient, because he is still growing and will need time to develop. To this point, Hipwood is still too skinny to take on a key position in an AFL team and one pre-season won't be enough time for him to stack on the required kilos to do that.

His lack of size at times means he can get pushed out of marking contests that he perhaps shouldn't, but that should be fixed with time in the gym and some more footy education. Despite his exciting season, Hipwood is raw, so may take some time. 

Hipwood sees himself a little like Essendon's young star Joe Daniher, and it's not hard to tell why. Both are big enough to play as full-time ruckmen but instead use their agility and athleticism closer to goal. It seems likely Hipwood will need to build up his body at some point to be able to play more of a pinch-hit rucking role.

A bid for Hipwood is expected to fall anywhere between 10-20 on draft night, and the Lions will then have the option to match it under academy rules. It will depend if it aligns with how they rate Hipwood, but it would be a surprise if he didn't end up at the club.

What we're seeing of Hipwood now is only a little of what we should see in years to come. His combination of height, speed and agility make him a dangerous tall forward option who can switch back when required. Versatile and with a growing feel for the game, Hipwood should be a long-term player.