Outside linebacker De'Shaan Dixon and defensive back Josh Thompson had the distinction of being the only two undrafted free agents that made the Jacksonville Jaguars' initial 53-man roster last year. Although Thomson was waived just one day later, Dixon spent the whole season on the active roster, and heading into the 2023 season, he's made the move to the interior defensive line.
Head coach Doug Pederson met with the local media on the last day of mandatory minicamp and said the team expects Dixon and fellow sophomore Gregory Junior to make strides in 2023.
"Greg's done a really nice job. For both players, this training camp will be big for them, especially when they put the pads on", Pederson said. "De'Shaan, we've actually moved him inside as an interior D-Lineman. He's bulked up a little bit and gained some weight, good weight".
"It'd be good for him to take that versatility from outside to move him inside, so there's another two-way player for you. Two different spots, so looking forward to both those guys competing and training camp but both have done a nice job this spring".
Coming out of Norfolk State, Dixon was a high-motor edge rusher who needed to clean up his hand usage and his get-off. Projected as a backup in the NFL, he appeared in three games and played four total snaps on defense as a rookie. Now, he'll have a chance to continue honing his skills and make the roster for the second straight year. Here's Pederson's exchange with the media Wednesday.
De'Shaan Dixon is in the mix to make the Jaguars 53-man roster in 2023
Foley Fatukasi, DaVon Hamilton, and Roy Robertson-Harris will tentatively be the starters on the interior defensive line in 2023 but several young players will be vying for playing time in the rotation. Raymond Vohasek, Tyler Lacy Henry Mondeaux, and Michael Dogbe, along with Dixon, are among those in the mix.
Lacy might have a better shot at sticking around by virtue of being a higher pick than Vohasek in this year's draft. On the other hand, Dogbe has previously worked with Jaguars defensive line Brentson Buckner and that familiarity could help him pave his way.
The Jaguars are counting on their young defensive linemen to step up in training camp. Dixon will be given the chance the change to make an impression and if he can make strides, he could become a solid piece in their rotation next season.