The Jacksonville Jaguars are counting on Trevor Lawrence, wide receiver Christian Kirk and safety Rayshawn Jenkins pick up where they left off last year. However, there are a handful of veterans and rookies that will also need to step up if the Jags want to return to the playoffs and repeat as division champions in 2023.
In particular, Jacksonville needs these five players to show out if they want to make a deep playoff next season.
No. 5 biggest X-factor for the Jaguars in 2023: Antonio Johnson, DB
First and second-round picks are often asked to contribute right away while players picked in later rounds usually get the developmental label. Although defensive back Antonio Johnson slid to the fifth round after originally being projected as a first or second-round talent during the draft process, he could become a key cog in the Jaguars' secondary in his rookie season.
By his own admission, Johnson has a chip on his shoulder and the best way to get rid of it is by showcasing the versatility that made him a mainstay of Texas A&M's defense throughout his collegiate career. See, the East St. Louis, Illinois native played different positions on the Auggie's defense despite the fact that he was listed as a safety.
One of those positions was nickel and if Johnson could line up in the slot for the Jags, he would round out a starting cornerback group that already includes Tyson Campbell and Darious Williams. Of course, Johnson needs to get more reps in training camp and beat incumbent Tre Herndon, who was brought back on a one-year deal. The good news is that he's got the talent to pull it off.
It's true that making the adjustment to the pros is no easy task but Johnson's got the athleticism and the instincts to thrive in the slot, where he could have a huge impact in Year 1.