The Jacksonville Jaguars entered the 2023 NFL Draft with a handful of needs but no clear weaknesses. This allowed them to trade down a couple times in the first round and select offensive tackle Anton Harrison with the 27th overall pick.
When the Jags drafted Harrison, it was thought that he could fill in for left tackle Cam Robison while he serves a suspension for violating the league's PED policy. However, head coach Doug Pederson said that he'll be lining up on the right side.
Harrison, a four-star recruit out of high school, mostly played left tackle at Oklahoma but will be tasked to move to the right side to fill the void left by Jawaan Taylor, who signed a four-year contract worth $80 million with the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency.
So far, Harrison's transition has been going well, and he's set to be in the starting lineup when Jacksonville faces the Indianapolis Colts in the opener. With this in mind, what should the Jaguars expect from their rookie right tackle? Here are some reasonable goals.
3. The Jaguars should expect Harrison to start all 17 games in 2023
Last year, then-rookie center Luke Fortner started all 17 games in the regular season and later two in the playoffs. Even though he struggled at times, the team's trust in him never wavered and let him learn on the fly instead. Jacksonville will surely adopt a similar approach with Harrison in Year 1.
Besides having to adjust to the pros, Harrison will be making a position switch, so he's set to run into a few speedbumps along the way. Nevertheless, the Jaguars won't take him off the football field unless he struggles mightily, so it's not unreasonable to think Harrison will start all 17 games barring injury.
2. Jaguars RT Anton Harrison's rookie number could mirror Jawaan Taylor's
Cam Robinson allowed just two sacks as a rookie but gave up a staggering 41 total pressures. Meanwhile, Jawaan Taylor surrendered nine sacks and also 41 pressures in his first NFL season. Robinson missed one game while Taylor started all 16.
Even though Harrison could turn out to be Jacksonville's long-term answer at right tackle, he'll probably undergo an adjustment period and the team's brass surely expects him to experience rough stretches. For this reason, giving up five sacks and 30-35 total pressures seem realistic.
1. Don't expect Jaguars RT Jawaan Taylor to get many accolades as a rookie
Offensive linemen don't get consideration for Rookie of the Year honors. Instead, the award usually goes to a quarterback, a running back, or a wide receiver. And as talented as Harrison is, it's hard to see him bucking the trend.
On the other hand, if Harrison fares well, he could pop up in a few All-Rookie Teams. Pro Football Focus, the Associated Press and Sporting News usually highlight players that thrive in their first NFL season and if Harrison makes a quick adjustment, he'll then have a solid candidacy. However, Harrison will probably have to fend off fellow right tackle Darnell Wright to get the nod.
In the end, the Jaguars drafted Harrison because they think he can be their right tackle of the future but he'll need a couple years to put it all together. Still, he needs to make a strong impression as a rookie.