No. 2 player the Jacksonville Jaguars wish they had drafted in 2023: Sam LaPorta, TE
Tight end was a need for the Jaguars heading into the 2023 draft because Evan Engram's contract status for the season was up in the air after getting slapped with the franchise tag. On top of that, Chris Manhertz and Dan Arnold walked in free agency.
By the time of the draft, Engram hadn't signed his franchise tender, so prospects such as Michael Meyer, Dalton Kincaid, and Luke Musgrave surfaced as potential targets for Jacksonville. In the end, general manager Trent Baalke threw a curveball at everyone and went with Brenton Strange. At the time, Baalke cited Strange's ability to make plays after the catch and his fit in the team's culture as the reason for his selection.
With Engram entrenched as the starter, Strange has been relegated to a reserve role. Maybe he'll have an impact down the stretch but it's a bit discouraging that he's behind Luke Farrell, a 2021 fifth-round pick, on the depth chart.
On the other hand, Sam LaPorta has wasted no time making the adjustment to the NFL. Drafted 17 picks before Strange, LaPorta has a legitimate chance to break the record for receptions by a rookie tight end. He currently has 35 catches for 377 yards with three touchdowns.
You could make the case that LaPorta was gone by the time Jacksonville was on the clock with the 61st overall pick. However, they made several trades throughout the draft and it wouldn't be hard to land at the beginning of the second round to snag LaPorta.