Cornerback remains a pressing need for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2023 NFL Draft
The Jacksonville Jaguars are coming off a successful season. However, they must address a handful of needs and load up on talent in the 2023 NFL Draft if they want to keep up with AFC powerhouses such as the Cincinnati Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs. While there are several paths the Jags can take in the first round, they should prioritize the cornerback position and Josh Edwards of CBS Sports seems to agree.
Edwards recently drew up a list of every AFC team's biggest need ahead of the draft and says that cornerback is Jacksonville's most pressing one, arguing that they need more from that group despite the investments they made at the position in recent years.
"Jacksonville has made ample investment into the cornerback position in recent years. The Jaguars signed free agents Darious Williams and Shaq Griffin, in addition to spending a first-round selection on C.J. Henderson and a second-round selection on Tyson Campbell, who remains a building block at the position moving forward. The Jaguars need more from that group -- especially after releasing Griffin -- and returning to the well may be the only way to do it. "
The Jags moved on from Shaquill Griffin earlier this year in a cost-saving move but cornerback was one of their top needs even before releasing him. Even though they have a solid tandem in Tyson Campbell and Darious Williams, they need a nickel cornerback.
Williams started the 2022 season in the slot but hit his stride when he moved to the perimeter in relief of Griffin, who missed several games with a back injury. Tre Herndon, who signed a one-year deal to return to Jacksonville, can also play in the boundaries and the slot but he's better suited for a reserve role.
This is a good year to draft a cornerback in the first or second round, given how stacked the class is. Even if most of the top prospects are gone by the time the Jags are on the clock with the 24th overall pick, there will be many high-quality corners still available. Cam Smith (South Carolina) would be an intriguing addition due to his ability to play inside or outside. Similarly, Deonte Banks (Maryland), is someone worth keeping an eye on due to his outstanding size and athletic skills.
The Jacksonville Jaguars must select a difference-maker in the 2023 NFL Draft
Precisely because this is a deep cornerback class, the Jaguars could wait until the second or third round to take a cornerback and still come out with a difference-maker. Although cornerback is one of their top needs, it's far from the only one. The team's brass should also consider adding a pass rusher, especially after losing defensive end Arden Key in free agency and falling short on the Calais Campbell sweepstakes.
On top of that, the Jaguars must bolster their offensive line depth. Walker Little is ready to replace Jawaan Taylor at right tackle but it would be a good idea to add another offensive tackle in the draft. Similarly, the left guard position could use an upgrade. Ben Bartch is coming off a season-ending injury and is entering a contract year, so the front office could start looking for his potential replacement in case he doesn't figure on the team's long-term plans.
The Jacksonville Jaguars don't have as many glaring holes as other means but that doesn't mean they can't rest on their laurels. They must find a slot cornerback and take care of their other needs in the draft, and it won't matter in which round they do it, as long as they do it.