FRESH off securing Adelaide's Jake Kelly on the opening day of the 2021 free agency period, Essendon is exploring ways to strengthen its hand at next month's NAB AFL National Draft.

The Bombers currently have picks 11, 48 and 53.

"Pick 11 is as great position to be in but it's really trying to strengthen the two third-round picks at the moment," Essendon's general manager of football Josh Mahoney told Continental Tyres AFL Trade Radio on Friday.

"We're open to opportunities and if it has to involve future draft picks, we'd look at that as well. We think there's a good group of players we'd like to get our hands on in this year's draft, especially in the second round.

"That's what this trade periods is going to be about for us. We don't have many targeted players. We will look for opportunities to improve our list, but it's going to be about improving those two third-round picks we have currently."


The Bombers have been linked to St Kilda's Ben Long, and Mahoney admitted that list manager Adrian Dodoro has made some inquiries about a few players.

St KIlda's Ben Long celebrates a goal against Brisbane in round 17, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

They include fellow Saint, Luke Dunstan, who will be moving on from Moorabbin.

"We are not going with a targeted approach," Mahoney said.

"We'll just see what happens. Different cubs have different positions with their salary cap and ours is really strong, which gives us flexibility if different situations arise."

TRADE HUB All the latest player movement news

Mahoney admitted the Bombers are considering all options when it comes to the potential availability of Gold Coast forward Ben King in 12 months' time. 

"We have some promising talls at the club, but you have to make sure you have flexibility with the draft and your trades with regards to what comes up. We're keeping a very open mind with that."

Gold Coast's Ben King celebrates a goal during round 23, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Dylan Shiel and Aaron Francis will certainly be with the club next year, while Marty Gleeson's future will likely be determined following the conclusion of the trade period.

There is great excitement internally at Essendon as it looks ahead to 2021, following a season in which it unexpectedly made the finals. Mahoney said an 11-11 record was promising, but its 108 percentage suggested they were competitive nearly every week.

He reiterated that there were no plans for new part-time development coach Alex Rance to pull on the playing boots.

"That's just a bit of speculation. He has signed on as development coach and that's the main thing."