When you think of Jacksonville Jaguars players, Trevor Lawrence is without a doubt the most valuable one. On the other hand, outside linebacker Josh Allen is low-key one of the most dominant edge rushers in the league while Calvin Ridley is trending toward being the receiver he was early in his NFL career. But how about rookie Anton Harrison or left tackle Walker Little?
Neither Harrison or Little comes up often when discussing the Jaguars' most important players heading into the 2023 season. Yet, both will have key roles in the regular season and their success or lack thereof could define Jacksonville. This has led Mike Clay of ESPN to dub them the team's X-factors.
Clay recently put together his predictions for the 2023 season and compiled a list of X-factors for each team — in the Jaguars' case two. The whole post is behind a paywall but the whole thing boils down to ensuring that Jacksonville must give Trevor Lawrence the best possible protection.
Little, a second-round pick in the 2021 draft, is set to fill in for Cam Robinson at left tackle while he serves a suspension for violating the league's PED policy. Harrison, on the other hand, will fill the void left by Jawaan Taylor when he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency.
Last year, the Jaguars' offensive line was 29th in adjusted line yards and 32nd in stuffed run percentage. Conversely, they ranked third in adjusted sack percentage.
The Jaguars O-Line is ready to pick up where it left off in 2022
Just recently, Pro Football Focus dubbed the offensive trenches the Jaguars' biggest weakness heading into the season. However, there are reasons to think they'll be just fine. For one, Anton Harrison fared well in the preseason despite the fact that he was dealing with a shoulder injury.
While a learning curve is expected for the Oklahoma product, especially when you factor in that he's switching sides, he's got the talent to prove that letting Jawaan Taylor walk was the right decision.
Walker Little, for his part, has spent a good chunk of the last two seasons on the sidelines but he's delivered when called upon. The former Stanford Cardinal flashed as a rookie and held the fort when Robinson hurt his meniscus late in the season. The fact that he switched back to left tackle, his natural position, after competing for the right tackle job last year should help him hit his stride early on.
It's also worth noting that Ben Bartch is back from the knee injury he suffered last year and is set to start against the Indianapolis Colts in the season opener. He, along with sophomore Luke Fortner and right guard Brandon Scherff, are entering their second year in offensive line coach Phil Rauscher's system. This should lead to better on-field performance. Speaking of Scherff, he had a down year in 2022 but he was dealing with an abdomen injury. If he manages to stay healthy, it's easy to picture him returning to Pro Bowl shape.
All things considered, the Jaguars' offensive line is a work in progress but there are reasons to believe Anton Harrison, Walker Little, and the rest of the bunch will be just fine next season.