The Jacksonville Jaguars made it a little longer of a night during the First Round of the 2023 NFL Draft, trading back not just once, but twice towards the end of the round. Just casually watching the Draft for the first time in almost 15 years, it kind of made me laugh. I know for sure Gus probably had to be annoyed, you’re sitting there with probably five pre-writes ready to hit publish and they keep edging you.
Eventually the Jaguars ended up pulling the trigger on offensive tackle Anton Harrison out of Oklahoma, one that seemed out of left field for a lot of people. With defensive backs Joey Porter Jr. and Brian Branch still on the board, most including myself, figured one of those would be the snap pick and why the team kept slowly sliding down in the first round as they continued to be on the board.
Many wondered after the news of Cam Robinson’s suspension being broken that the Jaguars might panic to pick an offensive lineman, which would seem to line right up with the Harrison pick, but I think that’s a bit too on the nose and not necessarily understanding how the draft process works.
“Everything plays into the draft,” Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke told reporters on Thursday evening when asked if the Robinson issue played into their decision. “Everything plays into the pick. But, again, I can’t stress enough, our board was set. We knew it was a pending situation for a while. But our board was set strictly on ability and the value of the player. Coach and I talked a lot about it, just trust the board. Let’s walk away from the first round with a player that we really like and covet, regardless of the position.”
I’m sure the Robinson news, which the Jaguars have known about for a while, played some part in the decision but the Jaguars also needed to bolster their offensive line to begin with. The Jaguars did lose Jawaan Taylor in the offseason, which pushes Walker Little into the starting lineup and creates a swing tackle hole. Then you combine it with the Robinson suspension, it just kinda dovetails perfectly.
I do think even without the Robinson suspension, Harrison would have been in play. As mentioned the Jaguars still had a swing tackle need and depth on the interior if Harrison can make that conversion to guard.
It’s a nice value pick for the Jaguars that will see immediate play, plus with the extra picks the team netted sliding down a few spots twice could give them the ammo to move up for one of those defensive backs who are still on the board as we wait the start of Round 2.