And just like that, the 2023 NFL Draft has come to an end. After months of anticipation, 259 prospects now have a new team, and that isn’t even including undrafted free agents. For playoff contenders like the Jacksonville Jaguars, the hope is that these rookies can come in and make an immediate impact.
Jacksonville finally broke out of the doldrums in 2022, snapping a five-year playoff drought. After a 3-7 start, the Jaguars won six of their last seven games to win the AFC South. They then pulled off a miraculous comeback against the Los Angeles Chargers in the Wild Card Round and gave the eventual champion Kansas City Chiefs a good fight in the Divisional Round. The Jaguars have endured many years of misery, but the future now looks very bright.
Jacksonville had a very busy weekend at the draft with 13 total picks, among the most in the league. The Jaguars traded back a total of four times over the draft, including twice in the first round.
Without further ado, let’s meet the Jaguars’ 2023 rookie class.
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1st Round, No. 27 Overall: Anton Harrison, OT – Oklahoma
Jacksonville originally held the No. 24 pick in the draft, but traded it to the New York Giants to move down to No. 25, then traded that pick to the Buffalo Bills to move down to No. 27. For moving down three spots, the Jaguars got a fourth, fifth and seventh-round pick. When they finally made a pick, they selected Oklahoma offensive lineman Anton Harrison, addressing one of their biggest needs.
A Washington D.C. native, Harrison was a four-star recruit coming out of high school and chose to attend Oklahoma over Michigan, Ohio State, and others. He played 34 games in three seasons with the Sooners and was their starter at left tackle the last two seasons. In 2022, he was a first-team All-Big 12 selection after allowing only one sack on 447 pass-blocking snaps, per PFF.
2nd Round, No. 61 Overall: Brenton Strange, TE – Penn State
The Jaguars again traded down with their second pick in the draft, trading the No. 56 pick to the Chicago Bears for the No. 61 and No. 136 picks. With their newly acquired second-round pick, the Jaguars selected tight end Brenton Strange out of Penn State. As a rookie, Strange will likely be a complementary tight end behind Evan Engram.
Originally from West Virginia, Strange was a four-star recruit and one of the best in the state. He has started 31 games for the Nittany Lions over four seasons, including all 26 in the last two seasons. He had his best season in 2022, posting 32 receptions for 326 yards and five touchdowns.
3rd Round, No. 88 Overall: Tank Bigsby, RB – Auburn
This pick was one of only two that Jacksonville did not acquire through trade. With this pick, the Jaguars selected running back Tank Bigsby out of Auburn. The team hopes that Bigsby can be a strong secondary back behind third-year player Travis Etienne.
An Atlanta native, Bigsby was one of the best recruits in the country at his position. He has been a bright spot in a subpar stretch for the Tigers, rushing for 2,903 yards and 25 touchdowns over three seasons. He was the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2020.
4th Round, No. 121 Overall: Ventrell Miller, LB – Florida
The Jaguars originally acquired this pick from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in last year’s draft for fifth and seventh-round picks in 2022. With this pick, Jacksonville decided to stay close to home and select linebacker Ventrell Miller out of Florida. He now joins a linebacker room featuring Devin Lloyd and Foyesade Oluokun, and will likely back them up as a rookie.
Hailing from Lakeland, Florida, Miller was a three-star recruit and decided to play for the Gators in his home state. He has spent six seasons at Florida, but redshirted in 2017 and only played two games in 2021 due to injury. In 49 collegiate games, Miller notched 240 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, and eight passes defended.
4th Round, No. 130 Overall: Tyler Lacy, DE – Oklahoma State
This pick made its way to Jacksonville thanks to the aforementioned trade with Buffalo in the first round. With the pick, the Jaguars selected defensive end Tyler Lacy out of Oklahoma State. Defensive line was another big need for the Jaguars, and Lacy was their first of several picks used to improve it.
A three-star recruit from Sachse, Texas, Lacy chose Oklahoma State over offers from Texas Tech and several Group of Five schools. In 44 games with the Cowboys, Lacy racked up 113 total tackles, 30 tackles for loss, and 11.5 sacks. He was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection in each of the last three seasons.
5th Round, No. 136 Overall: Yasir Abdullah, LB – Louisville
The Jaguars acquired this pick in the second-round trade with the Bears. Here, they added another pass-rusher in Yasir Abdullah out of Louisville. As a rookie, Abdullah will get to learn from other edge rushers such as Josh Allen and Travon Walker.
Abdullah was a four-star recruit from Miramar, Florida, and chose Louisville over Miami, LSU, and others. In five seasons with the Cowboys, he had 210 total tackles, 43 tackles for loss, and 23.5 sacks. He was a first-team All-ACC selection in 2022.
5th Round, No. 160 Overall: Antonio Johnson, S – Texas A&M
This pick came to Jacksonville thanks to the Giants trade in the first round. This time, the Jaguars added more depth to their secondary with safety Antonio Johnson out of Texas A&M. Secondary was another big need for the Jaguars, and Johnson was the first of three picks they used to add to it.
Hailing from East St. Louis, Illinois, Johnson was a four-star recruit out of high school. In three seasons at Texas A&M, he totaled 164 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and eight passes defended. He was one of the few bright spots for the Aggies in a miserable 2022 season, finishing second on the team with 71 tackles.
6th Round, No. 185 Overall: Parker Washington, WR – Penn State
The Jaguars acquired this pick from the New York Jets in the James Robinson trade last season. They used that pick on wide receiver Parker Washington out of Penn State, adding another weapon for Trevor Lawrence.
Originally from Sugar Land, Texas, Washington was a four-star recruit out of high school. He has been one of Penn State’s best receivers over the last three seasons, racking up 146 receptions for 1,920 yards and 12 touchdowns. Interestingly, his cousin, quarterback Joshua Dobbs, is also a former Jaguar.
6th Round, No. 202 Overall: Christian Braswell, CB – Rutgers
This is the second and last pick in this draft the Jaguars did not acquire through trade. Here, Jacksonville selected cornerback Christian Braswell out of Rutgers. As with the Johnson pick, this move gives the Jaguars some much-needed depth in the secondary.
Another Washington D.C.-native, Braswell was just a two-star recruit coming out of high school. He began his college career with three seasons at Temple and then transferred to Rutgers ahead of the 2022 season. His lone season with the Scarlet Knights was his best in college, posting 35 tackles, 14 passes defended and three interceptions.
6th Round, No. 208 Overall: Erick Hallett II, DB – Pittsburgh
This pick was the result of a minor trade with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2021. The Jaguars then used that pick to select another defensive back, Erick Hallett II out of Pittsburgh. Jacksonville loaded up on secondary players on Day 3, as Hallett was the third one selected.
Hailing from Cypress, Texas, Hallett was a three-star recruit out of high school. In four seasons with the Panthers, he had 170 total tackles, 32 passes defended, and eight interceptions.
7th Round, No. 226 Overall: Cooper Hodges, OT – Appalachian State
Jacksonville acquired this pick from the Carolina Panthers in the Laviska Shenault trade last August. Here, they selected another offensive tackle in Appalachian State’s Cooper Hodges.
Originally from Glen St. Mary, Florida, Hodges was a two-star prospect out of high school. He started 51 games at right tackle for the Mountaineers and in 2022, he allowed just one sack in 428 pass-blocking snaps.
7th Round, No. 227 Overall: Raymond Vohasek, DT – North Carolina
The Jaguars got this pick from the New Orleans Saints in a trade during the fourth round. They used the pick to beef up the other side of the trenches with North Carolina defensive tackle Raymond Vohasek.
Vohasek was a three-star junior college recruit from McHenry, Illinois, being the best recruit from Illinois in the 2019 class. He played 41 games in four seasons with the Tar Heels, totaling 96 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks.
7th Round, No. 240 Overall: Derek Parish, EDGE- Houston
With their final pick in the draft, again acquired from the Giants, the Jaguars selected another pass-rusher, this time Derek Parish out of Houston.
Hailing from Pearland, Texas, Parish was a three-star recruit out of high school. In five seasons with the Cougars, he totaled 146 tackles, 32.5 tackles for loss, and 16 sacks. He is coming off a season injury suffered in September.
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