3 questions Jacksonville Jaguars GM Trent Baalke must address in the 2023 NFL Draft
By Jack Aaron
General manager Trent Baalke has done a good job of replenishing the roster over the last two years but he and the Jacksonville Jaguars have their work cut out if they want to return to the playoffs and win the division in 2023.
Fortunately for Baalke, the Jags are set to have nine picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, which should be more than enough to address all the team's needs. And while it's uncertain which path Jacksonville will ultimately take, they must answer these questions.
3. Will the Jacksonville Jaguars spend an early draft pick on an offensive tackle?
Jawaan Taylor signed a four-year $80 million deal to become Kansas City's left tackle of the future, leaving a gaping hole on Trevor Lawrence's right side. Second-year tackle Walker Little filled in admirably on the left side for Cam Robinson when a season-ending put him on the sideline indefinitely last December.
Little showed promise on the blindside, but it's unknown whether he'd perform the same on the opposite side on a full-time basis. Other tackles currently on the roster include Blake Hance and Coy Cronce, both of whom have played no meaningful snaps.
Even though the first and second waves of free agency have come and gone, there are still some quality tackles on the market. In fact, the Jaguars' brass just had Cameron Fleming for a visit, so it's clear they're exploring ways they can add depth to the offensive line.
Other players that remain unsigned and could add depth to the Jaguars' offensive line are Isaiah Wynn, Taylor Lewan, and Donovan Smith. Although Lewan and Smith have only played on the left side. At No. 24, there should be first-round caliber tackles available such as Darnell Wright, who's one of the top offensive line prospects in this year's draft, along with Anton Harrison and Dawand Jones.
2. How much will the Jacksonville Jaguars prioritize the CB position?
Shaquill Griffin was meant to be a foundational piece of the secondary for multiple years, but he wasn't able to hit his stride in Jacksonville. That along with his large salary contributed to his release this offseason.
Cornerback Darious Williams provides a solid option opposite Tyson Campbell but the Jaguars need to round out the unit and add a nickel. Baalke should strongly consider adding more young talent to the secondary and there is a multitude of talented corners that could be available come pick 24.
This group includes Cam Smith, Keele Ringo, and Deonte Banks. There are still a couple of above-average veteran corners on the market including Rock Ya-Sin and Marcus Peters. However, it's unlikely that the Jags pursue Peters due to his age and likely high contract demand. On the other hand, Ya-Sin could work since he's younger and would demand less, so the team's brass should consider getting in touch with him before (or after) the draft.
1. Will the Jacksonville Jaguars wait to draft an edge rusher?
In terms of starting edge rushers, the Jags are in good hands for the next half-decade with Josh Allen and former No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker. However one of the most crucial losses in the offseason was rotational pass rusher Arden Key, who finished with 4.5 sacks and brought juice when needed most.
The pass rushers behind Allen and Walker include K'Lavon Chaisson and De'Shaan Dixon. Hopes were high for Chaisson after being selected 20th overall in the 2020 draft but he's only managed three sacks over the last three years. Dixon doesn't play meaningful snaps. While it would be unlikely for Baalke to use a Day 1 pick or two picks on an edge, he could still find value later in the draft.