First round, 24th overall: Alabama S Brian Branch
General manager Trent Baalke said on Thursday, “We need as many guys to go ahead of us as possible, and hopefully we’ll have our pick of two or three guys that we have in mind right now -- it’s down to that level -- probably two to three guys that we’re really interested in, and we feel like we’ve got a good shot at one of those guys.”
Shipley and I agreed on the Jaguar Report Podcast that Branch is probably one of the prospects Jacksonville covets most at 24th overall.
Though undersized and not a premium position player, Branch is undeniably talented and a strong fit both short- and long-term. He’s often mocked to the Jaguars by plugged-in media, and the team showed its interest publicly at Alabama’s pro day.
Brian Branch spending individual time with the Jags DB coach after the workout. Pick 24? pic.twitter.com/pwRAJeu4Jx— Billy M (@BillyM_91) March 23, 2023
You can read more about our take on Branch here.
Second round, 51st overall: Auburn EDGE Derick Hall
Jaguars trade: 56th overall, 208th overall, 2024 fifth-round pick
Dolphins trade: 51st overall
NFL insider Peter Schrager noted in his April 18th first-round mock, “I think it’s offensive lineman or defensive back here for the Jaguars.” Adam Caplan followed it up by writing in his April 19th mock, “From talking to NFL personnel sources on this pick, they expect it to be an offensive lineman or a cornerback.”
If these reports come to fruition, I’d be shocked if the Jaguars don’t peg an edge player with their second round pick. The team has met with nine edge prospects, eight of which are expected to be drafted by pick 56.
Head coach Doug Pederson said during the NFL’s annual owners meetings, “I think we’ve got to improve our pass rush. I think that’s vital, particularly on third down.” When asked about the pass rush and defensive line of the current roster on Thursday, he said, “that’s an area we’ve got to improve… we know that’s an area that must be addressed.”
So, after addressing its hole in the secondary with the 24th overall pick, Jacksonville moves up five spots in the second round to secure a pass rusher. Each of the four teams between 51 and 56 -- Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Detroit -- could draft an edge early, and Miami could use more picks.
Derick Hall has a strong profile with production, traits, and character to boot. He led Auburn in sacks and tackles for loss each of the past two years; posted a 9.4 RAS score to validate his on-tape explosiveness; and was a team captain with glowing leadership reviews.
One of the best speed-to-power rushers in the draft, Hall also exceeds Baalke’s length threshold with 34.5” arms.
Third round, 88th overall: Alabama OT Tyler Steen
Baalke had an interesting response on Thursday when asked if left tackle Cam Robinson will be ready for training camp: “From a health standpoint, yes.”
With Jawaan Taylor out of the building and Robinson possibly headed that way (his 2024 salary isn’t guaranteed), Jacksonville will be looking to add to its offensive line.
Position coach Phil Rauscher had a front-row seat at Alabama’s pro day to watch Tyler Steen (and Emil Ekiyor Jr.). The former Tide prospect earned starting experience at both tackle spots at Vanderbilt before transferring to Bama as a graduate student in 2022. Steen earned second-team All-SEC honors as Bryce Young’s blindside protector last season before impressing at the Senior Bowl.
Tyler Steen had some impressive reps lining up at LT, LG, and RT during the Senior Bowl practices pic.twitter.com/ztt5vCDquE— Billy M (@BillyM_91) April 4, 2023
His lacking arm length and powerful lower half may sound off “guard!” alarms for some, but the Jaguars are one of many NFL teams on the hunt for a reliable swing tackle. Should he make it to the third round, Steen’s experience and teachability would be hard for Jacksonville to pass on as 2023 insurance for Robinson and Walker Little.
Fourth round, 121 overall: TCU RB Kendre Miller
When asked about Jacksonville’s running back rotation at the combine, Pederson replied, “I think in today’s game you’ve got to have two to three guys. They’ve got to be able to carry the load. You’re talking about a 18-week, 17-game schedule and the postseason. It’s wear and tear on guys... You’re always looking to have two, three, four guys that can work the rotation at any given time.”
Even after signing D’Ernest Johnson, the Jaguars are interested in at least six running back draft prospects. One of those players is Kendre Miller, whom the team met with at TCU’s pro day and on a top-30 visit.
Miller doesn’t boast any elite traits and can be a little too patient when reading blocks. That said, the former Horned Frog has a well-rounded game, tough running style, and checks boxes for production as well as speed/size.
Fourth round, 127 overall: LSU DT Jaquelin Roy
The 6’ 3”, 305 lbs nose tackle was productive in his sole season starting in the SEC, but Roy lacked consistent finishes on tape and had an underwhelming combine performance. Still, with an NFL-ready body and flashes of Herculean strength, he checks enough boxes to be targeted early on Day 3.
Roy would immediately provide depth on the defensive line and could develop into a potential future starter. DaVon Hamilton is one of Jacksonville’s more underrated players, but his rookie contract expires after this season.
Sixth round, 185th overall: Minnesota CB Terell Smith
The Jaguars still need more talent at cornerback. Brian Branch would be the team’s only addition to its secondary this offseason, and Darious Williams (whose age-31 2024 salary isn’t guaranteed) doesn’t figure to be Jacksonville’s long-term outside starter opposite Tyson Campbell.
Smith met with the Jaguars at the combine, per Justin Melo. The Shrine Bowl standout posted a 4.41 40-yard-dash with solid size and length marks, too.
A dominant defensive showing was highlighted by this Terell Smith's end zone INT! pic.twitter.com/MKUCkxG35V— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) September 2, 2022
The three-year Minnesota starter isn’t ready to handle NFL receivers in coverage from Day 1 despite the fact that he’ll turn 24 this summer. However, Smith brings athletic traits and tackling ability to the plate -- making him a nice late-round addition to Jacksonville’s secondary and special teams units.
Sixth round, 202nd overall: Chattanooga OG McClendon Curtis
Ben Bartch may not be ready for the start of training camp; 31-year-old Brandon Scherff barely got through a full season last year; and Luke Fortner didn’t ease any worries about his physicality at the NFL level. Brandon Shatley, a.k.a. Mr. Dependable, could use some assistance backing up Jacksonville’s interior O-line.
According to Justin Melo, the Jaguars “routinely sent scouts to [Chattanooga] to observe Curtis” and met with him at the Senior Bowl. Curtis has great size and length, and though his technique needs work, he does come with four years of starting experience across the line.
222 | Chattanooga OT/OG McClendon Curtis— (@TheSFNiners) April 13, 2023
Position versatility makes this a great value here. Gives me some Laken Tomlinson vibes. pic.twitter.com/YMZ6MFXVFl
Sixth round, 208th overall: traded to Miami
Seventh round, 226th overall: Florida WR Justin Shorter
Jacksonville’s wide receiver room is talented albeit thin, in terms of both physical size and position depth. Shorter ironically has a towering frame at 6’ 4”, 229 lbs. He also has great physicality and good-enough build-up speed, which bodes well for special teams and a potential offensive role.
WR Justin Shorter you have my attention!!! Long strides to get vertical and then the ball tracking....Wowzers— Erik Turner (@ErikJTurner) March 31, 2023
6'4" 235 pounds, 4.54 40 yard dash, 19.9 YDs/Rec, 6 drops on 177 targets (5.5% drop rate)... pic.twitter.com/UoRqlWOg6M
Pick 24: Alabama S Brian Branch
Pick 51: Auburn EDGE Derick Hall*
Pick 88: Alabama OT Tyler Steen
Pick 121: TCU RB Kendre Miller
Pick 127: LSU DT Jaquelin Roy
Pick 185: Minnesota CB Terell Smith
Pick 202: Chattanooga OG McClendon Curtis
Pick 226: Florida WR Justin Shorter
*Traded no. 56, no. 208, & 2024 5th for no. 51