With the NFL Draft underway, the Jacksonville Jaguars are the prototypical “ascending” franchise, with a young core that presumably is still getting better. With visions of a Super Bowl run dancing in their heads, what are their biggest needs over the final two days of the draft. Which targets might be most appealing for a franchise on the verge of breaking out?
Jacksonville Jaguars Team Needs Following Round 1 of the NFL Draft
The Jaguars could be in luck. Their greatest need might likely be filled by an instant contributor on Day 1 or Day 2 of the NFL Draft. If they’re OK with fielding a smaller cornerback in the slot, Jacksonville’s options are practically limitless.
The team has faith in Walker Little at right tackle, so grabbing an offensive lineman was probably the right move for them in Round 1.
The Jags entered the draft with nine selections, including all of their pre-assigned selections through the first four rounds, plus their sixth-rounder. Though lacking their own fifth- and seventh-rounder, trades garnered them extra picks in the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh.
They are rebuilding this team the correct way. After already making the playoffs in Trevor Lawrence’s second season, the Jaguars just need to keep doing everything they can to make his job easier. They added Calvin Ridley at receiver. And they added an offensive lineman in the first round. But there’s more work to be done. What positions might the Jaguars target the rest of the way?
Results for Jaguars 2023 Draft Picks
Round 1, Pick 27: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
The Jaguars were wheeling and dealing on Day 1, making trades with the Bills and the Giants. Ultimately, they settled in at pick No. 27 and selected Anton Harrison.
This is a front office that clearly knows what it is doing. There is no such thing as having too many offensive linemen. Protecting Lawrence is paramount, and this is a great step in that direction. The Jaguars should not be done addressing the offensive line, though.
Predictions for Remaining Jaguars Draft Picks
We used PFN’s free Mock Draft Simulator to project some realistic Jacksonville targets at each of their draft positions. Here’s a breakdown of the results.
Round 2, Pick 56: Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
An interesting pick here, but not at all surprising. Some teams might consider taking Drew Sanders earlier, given his Pro Bowler upside. Others might play it more conservatively. If he falls to the Jags late in the second round, they might not hesitate to snatch up the first-team Associated Press All-American.
Round 3, Pick 88: Christopher Smith II, S, Georgia
The flow of this draft is taking shape for Jacksonville. Three picks, three defenders. Christopher Smith II would help shore up this secondary as it transforms into an above-average one, or perhaps even a top-10 unit as it gels during the season.
Round 4, Pick 121: Sean Tucker, RB, Syracuse
When Travis Etienne Jr. emerged, this team had no more use for former UDFA James Robinson, despite the latter’s heroic efforts across more than two seasons. The team added D’Ernest Johnson during the offseason, and JaMycal Hasty and Snoop Conner will also compete for scraps behind Etienne.
So where does that leave them? A little thin if Etienne gets hurt. No, scratch that: quite thin, especially for a team with lofty aspirations. While Sean Tucker might not be a short- or even long-term solution, he or another RB at this spot would give the Jags a little more to work with. Swap him out for Kendre Miller if Tucker’s medical concerns torpedo his draft stock.
Round 4, Pick 127: Owen Pappoe, LB, Auburn
Back to defense, with Auburn’s Owen Pappoe coming off the board. The undersized linebacker might be better built for special teams. We’ll see.
Round 4, Pick 130: Jordan McFadden, OT, Clemson
Remember, no such thing as too many offensive linemen. Jordan McFadden is the rare Day 3 pick that projects to be a starter at the NFL level. McFadden still has many improvements he can make, but it would be a surprise if he wasn’t at least a useful depth piece.
Round 5, Pick 160: Dontay Demus Jr., WR, Maryland
The Jaguars scored a coup by buying incredibly low on Calvin Ridley. Paired with Christian Kirk, these two could become nightmares for opposing secondaries. And Zay Jones has finally been living up to his potential after a slow start to his career.
So where does this leave them? One Kirk or Ridley injury away from feeling a little stressed. To get past the behemoths of the AFC, they could use one more WR piece, even if he’s more of a developmental component who could step in midseason if needed. And this could be an incredible landing spot for the talented Dontay Demus Jr., giving him time and space to grow into his ceiling.
Round 6, Pick 185: Jay Ward, S, LSU
While not specifically a cornerback, the Jaguars can still address their secondary by taking a shot on LSU safety Jay Ward. He may not have much upside, but what late Day 3 pick does? If Ward can grow into a rotational player, that would be a success for this pick.
Round 6, Pick 202: Noah Ruggles, K, Ohio State
A fascinating selection. Perhaps this is farfetched. Or maybe Jacksonville is open to a kicker competition in training camp. Riley Patterson connected on 85.7% of his field goal attempts last season. It was a meaningful step back after hitting 92.9% the year before for Detroit. Most Super Bowl contenders have a sure-footed kicker. If the team isn’t confident that Patterson is that guy, maybe they’ll look to the draft for a backup plan.
Round 6, Pick 208: Jalen Redmond, DT, Oklahoma
Jalen Redmond is another defensive piece for a team that probably can’t draft too many defenders.
Round 7, Pick 226: Tommy DeVito, QB, Illinois
Sure, why not. While Tommy DeVito might end up being a UDFA, Jacksonville is in somewhat of a bind with C.J. Beathard as their No. 2 QB. Could DeVito be the next Brock Purdy? The Jags might want to find out — and hope that they don’t really have to find out.
Round 7, Pick 240: Josh Whyle, TE, Cincinnati
A pure luxury pick, the Jaguars can take a shot on an athletic player who can spend a couple of years behind Evan Engram. Perhaps Josh Whyle becomes something. If not, no big deal for a late-seventh-rounder.
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