Right tackle Jawaan Taylor is slated to become a free agent and there’s a strong chance the Jacksonville Jaguars will let him walk. After all, they already have a potential replacement in Walker Little but if they aren’t sure he’s the answer, they could add an offensive tackle with the 24th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, which is what Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports suggests in his latest mock draft.
Trapasso has Maryland offensive tackle Jaelyn Duncan going to Jacksonville at No. 24. He argues that protecting Trevor Lawrence should be the team’s top priority, and drafting Duncan would help them accomplish the goal.
"The Jaguars could go in plenty of directions here, but protecting Trevor Lawrence is priority No. 1 in Jacksonville. Duncan’s 2022 film wasn’t tremendous, yet he was big-time athletic upside."
Duncan became Maryland’s starting left tackle in 2019 and went on to make 40 starts. As Trappasso noted, his strength and athletic ability are off the charts. However, he needs to play with a better pad level and his pad technique could use some refinement. Keith Sanchez of The Draft Network believes that Duncan’s physical upside is intriguing but notes that he needs work on some of the technical parts of his game to consistently play at a high level.
Right tackle isn’t a pressing need for the Jaguars in the 2023 NFL Draft
Head coach Doug Pederson would like to bring Jawaan Taylor back. However, the team’s brass doesn’t have enough cap space to re-sign him, tight end Evan Engram and all their other pending free agents.
On the bright side, having Walker Little will potentially lessen the impact of Taylor’s departure. A natural fit at left tackle, Little lost to Taylor in training camp but that was the first time in his career that he lined up on the right side.
There’s a good chance that Little will only get better with more experience but if the Jaguars think he would benefit from having to compete for the job, they could then add Jaelyn Duncan in the first round. Duncan and Little could push each other to get better and whoever loses the battle could become the team’s swing tackle.
Having said that, it doesn’t make sense to draft a tackle in the first round when cornerback and pass rusher — and maybe tight end if Evan Engram doesn’t return — are bigger needs. If the Jaguars aren’t fully sold on Little, they could take an offensive tackle with a third or fourth-round pick or sign someone affordable, such as Jermaine Eluemunor, in free agency.
The Jaguars can take several paths with the 24th overall pick but right tackle shouldn’t be one unless Duncan is their highest-graded prospect when they’re on the clock. And even then, they are better off addressing other positions.