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Pressure off top Lions draftee Ely Smith

For the past decade Brisbane's first draft pick has walked into the club with huge expectations on their shoulders – not this year, though.

After giving up a top-five selection to secure Fremantle ace Lachie Neale during the NAB Trade Period, the Lions' first pick slid to No.21 where they took powerful Victoria Country midfielder Ely Smith.

The 18-year-old is blessed with a physique that can match more mature men around the stoppages, but despite good early impressions, there's no desire to rush him in 2019. 

That's not to say he won't get his fair share of senior footy, but it's a vast contrast from previous early selections and a snapshot into a list that is now competitive and not relying on draftees for immediate contributions.

Since Brisbane last made the finals in 2009 they've had seven top-10 picks.

Smith has slotted in quietly and with little fuss in his first few weeks at the Club.

Speaking to AFL.com.au at the Lions' pre-season training camp in Hobart, Smith said he had settled nicely into his new environment.

Living with teammates Matt Eagles and Jack Payne prior to Christmas, and about to move in with fellow draftee Connor McFadyen, he said the smooth transition had allowed him to concentrate almost solely on football. 

"All the boys are really helpful with showing me the gameplan, especially Jarryd Lyons, showing me what I need to do," Smith said.

"The coaches as well, they're making it pretty easy.

"Lachie Neale, anyone I ask, they'll help me. It's been great so far."

As with any draftee it's been a whirlwind of change, starting with a training workload that resembles nothing like what he did as a junior.

Smith has slotted into the 'second' team in the Lions' early match practices and after being taught a lesson by Lyons, Neale and company last week, made vast improvements in a second hitout in Hobart on Sunday.

"They're strong guys but they're also smart, they're smarter than me with how they use their bodies, shoving me under the ball and moving me here and there," he said. 

"I thought my bodywork definitely improved. 

"I'm just trying to improve as quick as I can.

"They always said it was a big step up, but you don't really understand until you do it yourself. 

"I've got a lot of work to do to get there but I reckon if I keep asking questions and keep doing what I can, I reckon I could be a chance (to play this year)." 

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs