Tom Lynch is not yet a star, but he is a talent.

Tom Lynch is not yet a star, but he is a talent. Photo: Getty Images

Richmond desperately needs an elite tall forward. This is not a new statement, nor is it an outdated one. This comment might have been made any time in the last decade since Matthew Richardson started to ease out of the side and it became evident Jack Riewoldt needed a sidekick, or to be a sidekick.

The Brisbane Lions have lost one of the greatest ever key forwards in Jonathan Brown. Beneath him there is nothing. The Tigers' and Lions' needs are acute.

West Coast is OK, it has Josh Kennedy and the capable Jack Darling. And Essendon has the raw as celery Joe Daniher and two others who have found life more enjoyable as backmen.

Why concentrate on these clubs? These four passed on Tom Lynch in 2010 before Gold Coast took him at pick 11. In fairness, the Suns passed on him six times before calling his name. But it is equally fair to note he was the second key forward they chose in those first 11 picks of the draft.

Lynch is not yet a star, but he is a talent. He is 199 centimetres, 100 kilograms, can mark and kick goals. He has kicked 27 goals this year at a tick over two a game. He booted three the other week against West Coast and has kicked five, four and four against Greater Western Sydney, St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs. He would be playing key forward in any of the four sides who passed on him in that draft.

Lynch was a known quantity in 2010, favoured to go early in the draft, so it is not rewriting history to wonder how he was not chosen sooner.

All of the players  - Andrew Gaff, Jared Polec, Reece Conca and Dyson Heppell - taken in that draft ahead of Lynch by clubs other than the Suns are solid players. But they are not key forwards.

The best key forwards are only ever normally procured one of two ways: early in the draft, Nick Riewoldt (pick 1), Lance Franklin (5), Jarryd Roughead (2), Matthew Pavlich (4) and Josh Kennedy (4) and the trio at the Giants - Jonathon Patton (1), Jeremy Cameron (as a 17-year-old), and Tom Boyd (1).

Or, they fall graciously into the lap of the club as the bargain-price deliverance as the offspring of a former player: Tom Hawkins, Travis Cloke, Jonathan Brown, Joe Daniher.

If they don’t get them through the draft or the snappy Y chromosome of a former player, then the only way to secure an elite forward is by luck or canny recruiting (Jay Schulz, Justin Westhoff, Jack Gunston) or having deeper pockets than most (Franklin and Kurt Tippett).

Which means seizing the chance of a tall forward in drafts diluted by the new clubs was even more important.

Conca is a good player but Richmond’s need is in the position Lynch plays, not where Conca bustles about. Richmond might have been a little shy in using a top-10 draft pick on another tall forward when Tyrone Vickery remained (then and now) an unfulfilled talent.

And Brisbane? Well, Polec is now back home in Adelaide. Say no more.

Heppell won the Rising Star, Essendon felt it had Daniher (father-son) coming, and presumed Michael Hurley would still be a forward, so the choice of Heppell could not be considered an error.

The reason that overlooking Lynch remains a surprise is so many clubs struggle to have one key forward regarded as elite.

Greater Western Sydney has three. One has already been third in the Coleman medal, another plays like Hawkins, and the third has only played three games but from what he promised as a teenager is already pencilled in as elite.

Gold Coast also has three: Lynch, Sam Day and Charlie Dixon.

Adelaide should have had the best forward set-up in the AFL had it kept Tipett and Gunston, but now it has only Taylor Walker in the top bracket.

Collingwood has only Cloke and potentially Ben Reid - should he ever get on the field.

Carlton has nothing elite. Fremantle has Pavlich, Geelong has Hawkins and the Hawks Jarryd Roughead, Gunston and arguably David Hale.

Jesse Hogan is yet to play a game but is Melbourne’s long-term saviour. It should have had Mitch Clark too but for illness. Chris Dawes is not elite.

Drew Petrie at North Melbourne has been very good, but not great. Aaron Black is promising but in the mould of Stewart Crameri at the Western Bulldogs he looks better suited in support. 

Port has Westhoff and the better-than-expected Schulz. Nick Riewoldt has a vacuum beneath him at St Kilda.

That leaves Sydney with the best of all - Sam Reid, Adam Goodes and, of course, Tippett and Franklin.

The resentment to the Swans and their cost of living allowance by rival cubs was that this allowance not only added life, it added power forwards. The Swans were able to buy Tippett and Franklin at a time when other clubs were scratching about to find one forward.

Obtaining two is the difference between good team and great, between flag and another year of disappointment.

What it also means is the attempted harvesting of the Gold Coast and GWS is most likely to begin with the plethora of tall forwards. It is difficult to conceive they could afford to hold on to all of them.