Sunday, April 30, 2023

Jacksonville Jaguars 2023 NFL Draft Grades Roundup

The 2023 NFL Draft is now in the rearview mirror, and we have compiled a consensus ranking using NFL draft grades from a variety of sites.

What draft grades have the media given to the Jacksonville Jaguars? What are they saying about the Jaguars' 2023 draft haul?

MORE: 2023 NFL Strength of Schedule - Grade: B+

The pending suspension of Cam Robinson for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy made the Jags' need at tackle even more obvious, so the Harrison selection made tons of sense. Strange's pick was likely forced by the run on tight ends in the second round. Jacksonville could have probably waited until Day 3 to find Bigsby or a similarly talented back.

One year after the Jaguars drafted two linebackers early, they took Miller early in the fourth despite the fact he is coming off injury and Abdullah in the fifth, though the former Cardinal is more of a threat on the edge. They smartly addressed their needs at defensive tackle with Lacy and Vohasek and in the secondary with Braswell and Hallett. Washington could work his way into a crowded receiver room with his strength and quickness in space, and Parish is a fullback who starred as an edge rusher for Houston the past couple of years.

ESPN - Grade: B

Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke made two trades down in Round 1, acquiring extra fourth-, fifth- and seventh-round picks in the process. That's a coup for dropping down just three spots and still getting an offensive tackle who could start as a rookie. With Cam Robinson facing a suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy, Anton Harrison (27) might have to be thrown into the fire on the left side. Harrison allowed just one sack over the past two seasons. He had a lot of fans inside the NFL.

If Baalke & Co. didn't go with a tackle in the first round, I thought they might go with a tight end. The Jags filled that need with Brenton Strange (61) in Round 2. Strange had been rising since the combine; I went back to study his tape after his combine workout, and I liked what I saw. He has the talent to turn into a solid pass-catcher. I also liked the value for edge rusher Yasir Abdullah (136) and safety Antonio Johnson (160) on Day 3, but I would have gone with running back Roschon Johnson over Tank Bigsby (88) in the third round. Bigsby is a physical runner, but does he have the speed to rip off chunk yardage? It was just a little high for me.

Jacksonville ended up with six selections in the final two rounds, and my favorite was wideout Parker Washington (185), who has a chance to contribute early out of the slot. Baalke took a few fliers late, which I always recommend.

There's not much flash about this class, but the substance is important, as Harrison and Strange fill holes and have high-level potential.

SI - Grade: C-

The Jaguars had a bizarre draft in many ways. Jacksonville needed to find additional pass rush to supplement Josh Allen—who is in the final year of his deal—and yet didn't address that need. Instead, general manager Trent Baalke used a pair of Day-2 picks to land a blocking tight end and a reserve running back. Jacksonville found some good value on the third day with Johnson in the fifth round and Washington in the sixth, but outside of Harrison filling a clear need at right tackle, there are real questions about what the Jaguars walked away with.

PFF - Grade: B

Day 1: This makes a lot of sense given the reported suspension for Cam Robinson. The 24th ranked player on the PFF big board, the Jaguars get Harrison at about the right spot but pick up three additional picks by moving down. He allowed just nine total pressures from 447 pass-blocking snaps in 2022.

Day 2: This could very well be a long-term replacement for Evan Engram because Strange projects far better as a receiver than he does as a run blocker. He caught 62.5% of the contested targets he saw in 2022 and had a drop rate of just 3.0%. His 60.5 run-blocking grade confirms that you probably don't want him taking on defensive ends as an in-line blocker.

Jacksonville adds a complementary weapon to Travis Etienne by taking Auburn running back Tank Bigsby. The Jags employ inside-zone runs at a high rate, and Bigsby turned in the second-best rushing grade on such plays among Power Five running backs since 2020.

Day 3: Miller brings a hard-hitting presence to Jacksonville's run defense. The question is whether he will hold up in coverage. He should be able to contribute in the Jaguars' base defense and short-yardage packages in the early going.

At this point, Lacy is a better run defender than a pass-rusher and figures to be more of a special teams player than anything else early in his career. He has the size at 6-foot-4 and 279 pounds, but he produced a pass-rushing grade of just 68.6 in 2022, winning 11.9% of his pass-rushing attempts.

Jacksonville needed pass-rush depth after losing a handful of contributors up front in free agency. The Jaguars add the undersized Abdullah, who plays with his hair on fire, earning a 90.8 pass-rush grade with a 21.2% pass-rush win rate in 2022. He may be more of a tweener and could be molded as the late-round version of 2022 first-round pick Devin Lloyd, another athletic and versatile linebacker.

Johnson came into 2022 with first-round hype. While he took a step back this year, he still finished with an 81.6 overall grade. Johnson can be an absolute menace in the box and just needs some refinement in order to make plays on the ball. The Jaguars should be thrilled to pick up PFF's second-highest-rated safety in the fifth round.

Washington is a smooth mover and great hands catcher who knows how to find the soft spots in zones. Additionally, he has the ability to go up and win jump balls, as reflected in his 71.4% contested catch rate. Washington will also make defenders miss in the open field, forcing 15 missed tackles in 2022.

Hodges figures to kick inside at the NFL level and was a solid tester at the combine, earning a 78.4 pass-blocking grade and an 87.3 run-blocking grade in 2022.

Vohasek missed the second half of the 2022 season but had back-to-back pass-rush grades around 70.0 on the interior. He did not test particularly well, but that may have been tied to health.

Parish carried a 91.2 pass-rush grade with six sacks in less than four full games this year before tearing his biceps. His short-term development will depend on his recovery.

Fox Sports - Grade: B-

It's surprising that it took the Jaguars until the fourth round to address the pass rush (Jacksonville had just 35 sacks last season, tied for 25th in the NFL). But accumulating 12 draft picks for an already good team is impressive — there's plenty of potential for strong depth — and they've certainly fed into their strength: the Trevor Lawrence-led offense. With its first three picks, Jacksonville took an offensive tackle, tight end and running back who should all play key roles as rookies.

USA Today - Grade: D+

OT Anton Harrison became a priority in light of the PED suspension incumbent LT Cam Robinson is facing and the departure of RT Jawaan Taylor in free agency. Aside from that, it felt like the Jags bolstered their depth if not finding much impact. Fifth-round DB Antonio Johnson could be the rookie who contributes most aside from Harrison. Still, for a team that narrowly won the AFC South in 2022, it feels like the rest of the division might have closed whatever narrow gap existed.

The Ringer - Grade: C-

I wasn't a huge fan of what the Jaguars did over the first two days of the draft. Jacksonville landed a potential future starting left tackle in Oklahoma's Anton Harrison on day one, but that pick was a bit of a reach per my board (he ranked 50th). I don't see a ton of upside with the team's second- and third-round picks either, with Penn State tight end Brenton Strange projecting as an H-back and Auburn running back Tank Bigsby a backup/rotational running back. I did like what the team did on day three, though: Louisville's Yasir Abdullah adds some juice to the team's edge rusher/linebacker group; Texas A&M safety Antonio Johnson brings versatility to the defensive backs spot; and Penn State receiver Parker Washington offers yards-after-the-catch talent at receiver.

Sporting News - Grade: C

The Jaguars had to lock into offensive tackle early after losing Jawaan Taylor in free agency and learning of Cam Robinson's looming suspension. It was then weird to pivot to more tight end and backfield help so early and then reaching defensively with Miller, Lacy and Abudllah. Harrison can start right away, however, and Johnson filled their lone true pressing needing as a first-round caliber safety. They also weren't lower because of some good versatility later.

Touchdown Wire - Grade: B

Jaguars GM Trent Baalke was pretty busy with all these picks, and the hits could be serious. Anton Harrison is a plug-and-play left tackle who can slide right in and succeed. Brenton Strange should combine with Evan Engram to give Doug Pederson some really interesting two-TE packages, and Tank Bigsby lives up to his nickname on the field with his violent running style.

The two fifth-round picks really stand out — Yasir Abdullah is a smaller edge-rusher who wins with estimable quickness and bend; he was one of my more underrated speed ends. And Antonio Johnson should help a secondary that needs a lot of it. I would have liked to see more cornerback help here, but the Jags did add important pieces to a roster that is supposed to be playoff-pound in 2023.

More: 2023 NFL Draft Grade Roundups

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