Jaguars 2023 rookie class gets shockingly high spot in NFL Media's ranking

• The Jaguars have a keeper in Anton Harrison but the rest of their 2023 NFL Draft class left much to be desired last year.

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, head coach Doug Pederson, first round draft pick Anton
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, head coach Doug Pederson, first round draft pick Anton / Bob Self/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY

The Jacksonville Jaguars hit it out of the ballpark when they selected Anton Harrison 27th overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. However, the didn't nearly as much production from the rest of their rookie class. But despite their lack of impact, Eric Edholm and Chad Reuter of NFL gave the Jags a favorable spot in their latest ranking.

Edholm and Reuter ranked all 2023 rookie classes and placed Jacksonville at No. 15, arguing that besides finding a reliable tackle in Harrison, their Day 2 picks contributed as reserves.

"The team's Day 2 selections contributed as reserves. Bigsby only logged 50 rushing attempts for 132 yards and one reception for 6 yards on the year because Travis Etiennecarried the load. Tank should play a larger role if the team's rushing attack becomes more efficient in 2024.

Strange caught five passes for 35 yards and a score, playing a lot of snaps early in the year before a foot injury limited his effectiveness. He and Evan Engramshould become a strong 1-2 punch next season."

Harrison was a Day 1 starter and appeared on every single game as a rookie. While he gave up five sacks in the first eight games of the season, he allowed none in the last nine. The fact that he did so while making the transition to the right side makes his early success even more surprising. Entering Year 2, there's a chance he could move back to left tackle, his natural position. But regardless of where he lines up, he gives the Jags a building block in the offensive trenches.

On the other hand, Brenton Strange and Tank Bigsby, drafted in the second and third round, respectively, weren't nearly as productive as Harrison. The former was responsible for a handful of turnovers and the latter got minimal playing time last year. Granted, they both were reserves but they didn't do much when they were thrust onto the football field.

In fact, wide receiver Parker Washington (Round 6), and safety Antonio Johnson (Round 5) contributed more than Strange and Bigsby. Washington's number was called when Christian Kirk suffered a season-ending core injury in Week 13 and Johnson progressively got more playing time as the year passed. Based on his performance, the former Texas A&M Aggie should be a candidate to replace Tre Herndon in the slot or start next to Andre Cisco at safety in 2024.

The rest of Jacksonville's rookie class didn't do much of note. Defensive end Tyler Lacy got minimal playing time, linebacker Ventrell Miller and offensive lineman Cooper Hodges suffer season-ending injuries and cornerback Christian Braswell also missed a considerable amount of the year while dealing with a hamstring injury. Safety Erick Hallett II, defensive tackle Raymond Vohasek and defensive tackle Derrick Parrish didn't make the 53-man roster.

The Jaguars are waiting for their 2023 rookie class to step up in Year 2

When you take into account that Anton Harrison was the only full-time starter to come out of the Jaguars' 2023 class, their spot in NFL Media's ranking was a bit too generous. You could even argue that Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports got it right when he placed them at No. 26 on his list. While nobody expects Tank Bigsby or Brenton Strange to turn into Pro Bowlers, they do need to contribute more in Year 2.

In Bigby's case, Travis Etienne is firmly entrenched as the No. 1 running back, but he needs to prove he deserves more carries. If he does live up to his potential, the former Auburn Tiger could give the Jaguars a dynamic tandem, alongside Etienne. Strange, for his part, needs to prove he can be a reliable pass catcher and make plays in the middle of the field. That's what the team's brass drafted him to do.

Tyler Lacy also needs to find his way into the defensive line rotation. He won't probably be starting any time soon but he should be able to spell DaVon Hamilton and Roy Robertson-Harris from time to time. Also, Erick Hallet should compete for a roster spot if Rayshawn Jenkins or Daniel Thomas leave in the offseason.

The bottom line is that the jury is still out in the Jacksonville Jaguars' 2023 rookie class. But if players such as Strange and Bigsby can step up, it will look much better than it currently does.

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