2023 NFL Draft: The Jaguars get it right with DB Antonio Johnson in Round 5

NFL Combine, Antonio Johnson
NFL Combine, Antonio Johnson / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

After a series of uninspiring selections in Rounds 3 and 4 of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars have reversed the trend and came out of the fifth round with a couple of prospects with huge upside. They first took Louisville outside linebacker Yasir Abdullah with the 131st overall selection and later went with Texas A&M defensive back Antonio Johnson at No. 150.

Abdullah could become a solid piece in the Jaguars' pass-rush rotation while Johnson can fill an immediate need at nickel. Entering the draft, cornerback was one of the team's biggest needs, which made their decision not to address it on Days 1 and 2 look rather puzzling.

Then again, things worked out well for the Jags in the end. Johnson was seen as a potential first-round selection at one point of the draft process and was even dubbed a Round 2 fit for Jacksonville. Although he ended up lasting until the fifth round, he's the kind of difference-maker the Jags need to slow down all the AFC offenses they'll face in the 2023 regular season.

How does Antonio Johnson fit the Jacksonville Jaguars' defense?

A four-star recruit out of high school, Johnson brings lots of versatility to the table. At Texas A&M, he played a wide array of roles, linebacker, safety and nickel. He's the kind of slot cornerback that can cover tight ends but also serve as an enforcer against the run.

While his lack of impact plays at the collegiate level could be a potential cause for concern, Joe Marino of The Draft Network points out that Johnson's versatility and ability to line up at different sports makes him "an intriguing prospect that has the makings of a quality starter at the next level".

General manager Trent Baalke told the media after Day 2 of the draft that they felt comfortable going with veteran Tre Herndon at nickel but Johnson could challenge him for the spot. Working in his favor is that due to this status as a fifth-round pick, he won't be pressed into action if he isn't ready and will have time to work on his craft.

Having said that, it wouldn't be shocking to see Johnson in the starting lineup in Week 1. Also, it will be interesting to see how defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell deploys him. Maybe he can sub in for Andre Cisco or Rayshawn Jenkins at times or even have him rush the quarterback.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are having a solid Day 3 and if Johnson can become a starter in Year 1, they will look smart for not addressing the cornerback position early in the draft.

Next. Jaguars winners and losers from Day 2 of the Draft. dark