Essendon waiting on results of rookie and national drafts before finalising VFL list for 2017
Tim Michell, Moonee Valley Leader
October 26, 2016 7:00am
ESSENDON'S VFL list for 2017 will start to take shape after the AFL national and rookie drafts next month.
Bombers best-and-fairest winner Aaron Heppell is considered the club's top VFL draft hopeful, while captain Dan Coghlan and on-baller Nash Holmes also impressed throughout 2016.
The trio will keep a close eye on proceedings during both drafts, hoping to follow the same path taken by former Essendon VFL defender Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti into the big time.
"When you look at Anthony Tipungwuti this year, I think it says a lot for persistence within the VFL system firstly," new Essendon VFL coach Paul Corrigan said.
"He was a bit more mature and ready to go this year. Hopefully the likes of Hepp, he can be the same if he gets an opportunity."
Corrigan said changes to the club's list would be inevitable, although the Bombers hope to retain their core VFL squad next year.
He said about 50 prospective VFL players would be invited to train with the club before Christmas and press their case for a spot in Essendon's squad.
"For the VFL-listed guys, it's just the ability to take your opportunity when it presents," Corrigan said.
"We saw that even this year with a few of the guys that were able to do that.
"Nash Holmes in his first year playing as a 23rd man was able to get inside the 22 later in the year.
"Even guys who might have only played a couple of games like Alex Boyse and those type of guys who came in and had an impact."
Essendon bowed out of the premiership race this year after a semi-final loss to premier Footscray.
The club's depth will be bolstered next season by the return of a key group of senior players from suspension including Jobe Watson, Cale Hooker and Michael Hurley.
But Corrigan said opportunities would still present for the club's VFL listed players to shine.
The 39-year-old has been with Essendon for the past four years.