JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The 2023 NFL draft is a wrap after three days in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
In the first round, the Jacksonville Jaguars traded their No. 24 overall pick to the New York Giants for the Nos. 25, 160 and 240 picks. They then traded the No. 25 overall pick to the Buffalo Bills for the No. 27 and No. 130. And with the No. 27 pick, the Jaguars selected OT Anton Harrison from Oklahoma.
ESPN has pick-by-pick analysis of each of the Jaguars’ selections.
Round 1, No. 27 (from BUF): Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
My take: This pick is more about 2024 and beyond than it is this season, though Harrison could certainly play a critical role early in this season depending on how long left tackle Cam Robinson gets suspended for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy -- he could get two, four or six games. While it's likely that Walker Little steps in at left tackle, the expectation is that Harrison would start at right tackle over journeyman Josh Wells, whom the team signed to a one-year deal. Robinson carries a big cap number in 2024 ($22.75 million) and the team saves $17.8 million by releasing him -- so it's likely 2023 is Robinson's final season in Jacksonville. Harrison can take over as the starter on an affordable contract just in time for when the team starts working on an extension for quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Key stat: Harrison allowed just two pressures on 406 pass-block snaps last season, and allowed only one sack on 772 pass-block snaps in the past two seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Jaguars were 31st in the NFL in pass block win rate last season, per ESPN Analytics. Robinson ranked 59th and right tackle Jawaan Taylor ranked 38th in pass block win rate among tackles. The team needed an upgrade on the edge and they got one.
What we're hearing about Harrison: Harrison played all but one game in his Oklahoma career at left tackle (he played right tackle against Kent State in 2022), but GM Trent Baalke said that Harrison's versatile enough to play right tackle and guard for the Jaguars, if needed. Coach Doug Pederson wants Harrison to concentrate on offensive tackle first.
"Obviously, tackle's the spot to learn and we'll get him in here and get him going," Pederson said. "The biggest thing is just get him around the other guys and get him in that room. Get him with [OL coach] Phil Rauscher and [assistant OL coach Todd] Washington and the guys and just start the learning process. But right now tackle will be the first primary spot for him. But as he develops and grows and just see where he can can best help us win games."
Check out the highlights from Penn State's dynamic tight end Brenton Strange.
Round 2, No. 61 (from CHI): Brenton Strange, TE, Penn State
My take: The Jaguars have only three tight ends on the roster, but starting TE Evan Engram has yet to sign the franchise tag. He set career highs in catches and yards last season in his first season with the Jaguars, and the team has been trying to work out a new contract but there has been little movement. The other tight ends are Luke Farrell (11 career catches) and Gerrit Prince (zero catches). Farrell is an inline tight end but Strange is more of an H-back and caught 70 passes for 755 yards and 11 touchdowns at Penn State. He could be the eventual replacement for Engram, potentially as soon as 2024 -- if the Jaguars are unable to work out a new deal.
Key stat: Penn State used Strange all over the place and the expectation is the Jaguars will do the same, and it gives the team the chance to have two pass-catching tight ends on the field at the same time. Strange is one of just three FBS tight ends since 2020 to run 300 routes from the slot, 150 routes as an in-line TE and 75 routes split out wide, per ESPN Stats and Information. The others are new Raiders pick Michael Mayer and Auburn’s John Samuel Shenker.
Round 3, No. 88: Tank Bigsby, RB, Auburn
My take: The Jaguars needed to add depth behind starter Travis Etienne Jr. and they did that in free agency by signing D'Ernest Johnson and re-signing JaMycal Hasty in February. Bigsby ran a 4.56 in the 40 at the combine and will be a big help in short-yardage situations. The Jaguars drafted Snoop Conner in the fifth round last year to fill that role but he was active in only eight games and had just 12 carries. Johnson is a proven, reliable backup in the league (he had success in that role in Cleveland) and now the Jaguars have another option to help manage Etienne's workload.
Key stat: Bigsby was one of the country's hardest backs to bring down during the last three seasons at Auburn, and he's proven he can run though tackles and get as much yardage as possible. Per ESPN Stats & Info, Bigsby's yards before contact per rush ranked 90th out of 111 players with at least 300 rushes, but his yards after contact per rush over that span ranked 13th.
Round 4, No. 121 (from TB): Ventrell Miller, LB, Florida
My take: The Jaguars added to their inside linebacker depth with Miller, who projects as mainly a special teams player. They already have a similar player in Shaquille Quarterman -- who made one of the biggest plays of the 2022 season when he knocked the ball loose from Titans RB Derrick Henry to spark the Jaguars' first victory in Nashville since 2013. Quarterman is in the final year of his rookie contract, though, so the Jaguars could view Miller as a potential replacement in 2024. Miller was a productive tackler at Florida (86 in 2020 and 74 in 2022) and did have 7.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in his five-year career.
Round 4, No. 130 overall (from Buffalo): Tyler Lacy, DE, Oklahoma St.
My take: Lacy was a productive player at Oklahoma State against the run but wasn't much of a pass-rusher (11.5 sacks in four seasons), so he doesn't help much in terms of addressing the Jaguars' biggest need. Lacy fits in as a backup to Roy Robertson-Harris and Folorunso Fatukasi and will compete with Adam Gotsis for playing time. The Jaguars needed help here because they haven't re-signed Dawuane Smoot (yet, anyway), who suffered a torn Achilles in December.
Round 5, No. 136 overall (from Chicago): Yasir Abdullah, LB, Louisville
My take: The Jaguars finally addressed their pass rush issue with Abdullah, who had 19.5 sacks the last two seasons. He's a little undersized at 6-foot-1, 237 pounds, but he made a lot of tackles behind the line of scrimmage (42 tackles for loss) and consistently delivered big plays: Eight forced fumbles and three interceptions in his career. He'll get the chance to play in sub packages, essentially filling the role that 2020 first-round pick K'Lavon Chaisson has had the last two seasons.
Round 5, No. 160 overall (from New York Giants): Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M
My take: Johnson is listed as a safety, but spent 47% of his snaps lined up in the slot for the Aggies, who ranked first in the SEC in pass defense. Johnson didn't exactly light up the stat sheet in his three seasons at A&M: He logged one interception and seven pass breakups, though he did record a lot of tackles (164). Slot corner was arguably the Jags' biggest need behind pass-rusher heading into the draft, so Johnson will get the chance to compete with Tre Herndon to win the job.
Round 6, No. 185 overall (from New York Jets): Parker Washington, WR, Penn State
My take: Washington had 146 catches for 1,920 yards and 12 touchdowns and averaged 13.2 yards per catch in three seasons. He played outside and in the slot and was PSU's primary punt returner in 2022. He'll have a chance to compete with Tim Jones and Kendric Pryor to be the team's fifth receiver behind Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Jamal Agnew. Though, Bigsby, the team's third-round pick, also can play in the slot as well.
Round 6, No. 202 overall: Christian Braswell, CB, Rutgers
My take: Braswell spent six years in college at Temple and Rutgers. He transferred to Rutgers in 2021 but missed that season with a knee injury. He finished strong, with three interceptions and 11 pass breakups last season. He'll have to find a role on special teams to have a chance of making the roster.
Round 6, No. 208 overall: Erick Hallett II, S, Pitt
My take: Hallett, who was a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award last season, is another safety who also can play in the slot. He was a playmaker at Pitt, with 158 tackles, 22 pass breakups, four forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, and seven interceptions in four seasons.
Round 7, No. 226 overall (from Carolina): Cooper Hodges, OT, Appalachian State
My take: Hodges played tackle in college but projects as a guard in the NFL. Hodges started 51 games at App State, mainly at right tackle, but played guard at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
Round 7, No. 240 overall (from New York Giants): Raymond Vohasek, DT, North Carolina
My take: Vohasek had 96 tackles and 5.5 sacks in four seasons with the Tar Heels. He's a little undersized at 6-foot-2 and 300 pounds and will be a long-shot to make the roster. He'll have to hope to impress enough to find a spot on the practice squad.
Round 7, No. 240 overall: Derek Parish, FB, Houston
My take: Parish was a defensive lineman/linebacker at Houston but also played some fullback (he started one game there as a junior in 2020). That's where the Jaguars are going to use him at first. The Jaguars haven't had a fullback on the roster since Bruce Miller in 2020. Miller was a defensive end in college at Central Florida but the San Francisco 49ers drafted him in the seventh round and converted him to fullback. Jaguars GM Trent Baalke was the 49ers' GM.