Jacksonville Jaguars 5th-round steal in the 2023 NFL Draft is an upgrade to Arden Key
By Beau Adams
The Jacksonville Jaguars had a highly questionable draft. But one pick stands out when allowing a few days to assess and taking a step back to look at the broad picture. The Jags used their fifth round, the 136th overall, to select Louisville LB Yasir Abdullah.
It's not hyperbole to say that the Abdullah pick of may be the best the Jaguars made in the draft. It's hard to get excited about a fifth-round selection, but the former Louisville standout is without a doubt a fifth-round steal.
What are the Jacksonville Jaguars getting in Yasir Abdulla?
In 61 career games as a Cardinal, he racked up 23 sacks and 210 total tackles, 43 of them for a loss. In addition, he caused eight fumbles and recovered three more. In 2022, he recorded 63 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, two interceptions, and four fumbles forced, which was good for first in the ACC in forced fumbles and sacks and was fourth in tackles for a loss. He was selected to the All-ACC first-team. If that wasn't enough, he killed it at the NFL Scouting Combine as well, watch his 40-yard dash here.
I lined Abdullah up for a comparison to the player he replaces, Arden Key. That’s where the pick became brilliant. In their draft profiles, Abdullah has a production score of 70 to Keys 75, but in athleticism, he blew Key away with a 79 to Keys 51.
Abdullah's total score of 70 and a draft profile grade of 6.13 indicates he is an upgrade to over Arden Key with a 65 and grade of 6.10. Abdulla is faster, stronger, and more athletic than Key while being, most importantly, cheap. What makes this pick even better is Key was a third-round pick, and the Jaguars got Abdullah in the fifth.
Allowing Arden Key to walk and drafting a better younger replacement into a four-year fifth-round rookie contract saves the Jaguars a tremendous amount of cap space. Key had 4.5 sacks and 27 combined tackles last season and will now be costing the Titans $21 million over the next three years. Look what will be in store for the new rookie quarterbacks in the AFC South this year.
The Louisville prospect would be best used as a pass-rush EDGE specialist on Sundays. He is the designated pass rusher the Jaguars need, a disruptive hunt-the-quarterback-at-all-cost kind of predator.
Hopefully, the Jaguars will give him enough snaps to make an impact. Considering the Jaguars will face rookie quarterbacks six times in their divisional matchup this season, the quarterback hunt is on, and I like Yasir Abdullah as the quarterback predator.