3 Positions the Jacksonville Jaguars must prioritize in the 1st round of the 2023 NFL Draft

Trent Baalke, general manager of the Jacksonville Jaguars at Episcopal High School in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Trent Baalke, general manager of the Jacksonville Jaguars at Episcopal High School in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

Coming off an unexpected winning season, the Jacksonville Jaguars are in a great spot for the future. The roster is looking strong in most places but could use some reinforcement. With the Jags currently $22.4 million over the cap, they’ll need to cut veterans and replace them with younger, cheaper options.

Working in the Jaguars’ favor is that the 2023 NFL Draft is stacked with talent at the positions they need to address. In particular, they should address these three positions in the first round.

No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars 1st round position to target – Cornerback

There are some solid corners on the Jacksonville roster but they aren’t nearly as young, talented, and cheap as Tyson Campbell. Shaquille Griffin is set to earn $17.1 million in 2023, far above what he should be making based on his performance this year before he was placed on Injured Reserve with a back injury.

In five games last season, Griffin allowed a 68.8 completion percent rate and earned a Pro Football Focus coverage grade of 61.9. There is a potential out on his deal in 2023, in which the Jaguars would absorb four million in dead cap if they were to cut him.

Veteran Tre Herndon is also slated to become a free agent.  He played well in spurts and wouldn’t be expensive to bring him back. Having said that, there are plenty of options to replace either Griffin or Herndon in the draft, especially in the first round which is loaded with talent at that position.

Most big boards (including PFF’s) project six cornerbacks to go in the first round, including Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State), Kelee Ringo (Georgia), Cam Smith (South Carolina), Christian Gonzalez (Oregon), Devon Witherspoon (Illinois), and Clark Phillips III (Utah). At least two or three of those players will be available at No. 24 for the Jaguars.

No. 2 Jacksonville Jaguars 1st round position to target – Offensive tackle

We’d like to believe that Jacksonville has its tackles of the future in place but we can never be too sure. Both Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor fit the team’s schedule with age and talent. Both have somewhat questionable futures with the team, however.

Robinson tore his meniscus against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15 and there’s no guarantee that he’ll be the same player that the Jaguars envisioned when general manager Trent Baalke signed him to a three-year, $54-million dollar extension last May. It’s currently unclear whether he’ll be healthy to start 2023.

On the opposite side of the line, Jawaan Taylor is an unrestricted free agent. While he’s said he would love to stay in Duval county, there isn’t a clear path to re-signing him with the team being over the salary cap. The second-year man Walker Little showed promise during his time stepping in for Robinson but assuming Taylor walks, the right tackle spot would be left vacant. A few options late in the first round would be Broderick Jones (Georgia), Anton Harrison (Oklahoma), and Dawand Jones (Ohio State).

No. 1 Jacksonville Jaguars 1st round position to target – Tight end

Trent Baalke has made it known that he’d love to bring Engram back. He had the most successful statistical season for a Jaguars tight end in franchise history, finishing with 766 yards on 73 receptions and four touchdowns. He developed a great rapport with Trevor Lawrence which only got better as the season progressed.

Engram will likely command a salary north of $10 million a year, considering he signed a one-year prove-it deal for $9 million last offseason. With the current Jags’ cap situation, it wouldn’t be shocking if Baalke let him walk. If he does, there are plenty of intriguing talents at the tight end position in the first round. Those talents include Michael Mayer (Notre Dame), Darnell Washington (Georgia), and Dalton Kincaid (Utah).

Trending. 5 Senior Bowl prospects the Jaguars must monitor. light