The Jacksonville Jaguars picked Anton Harrison 27th overall in the 2023 NFL Draft because they think he can fill the void at right tackle left by Jawaan Taylor, who signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency. So far, Harrison has shown he's up to the task.
Harrison, a left tackle at Oklahoma, not only has to make the adjustment to the NFL but he's done it while switching sides. That's quite a challenge but one he's handled well. In his preseason debut, the former Sooner gave up zero pressures on 11-pass blocking snaps. Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports gave him an A plus for his performance, which he described as 'lights out'.
You could say that it's just the preseason and you would be right. It's hard to tell how a player's career will play out based on such a small sample. Having said that, Harrison has put in the work throughout the offseason to make you think he'll be fine. Just recently, the Jaguars and the Lions held joint practices ahead of Sunday's matchup. Harrison went against defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and more than held his own.
What's more impressive is that Harrison has been dealing with a shoulder injury. That he's played through is a statement of his toughness and drive to be the best at what he does. Also, he recently got praise from offensive line coach Phil Rauscher, who compared him favorably to Minnesota Viking left tackle Christian Darrisaw.
In particular, Rauscher complimented Harrison's footwork and speed, via Evan Reier of Jaguar Report.
"His feet are the best I've seen out of a rookie. We drafted Christian Darrisaw when I was in Minnesota in the first round and Christian's an unbelievable player, but foot-speed-wise, Anton's got him beat in that sense."
The Jaguars must have a cautionary approach with Anton Harrison
Precisely because Anton Harrison has been dealing with an injury, the Jags must proceed with caution the next two weeks. On one hand, you want to give him as many reps as possible before the opener. On the other hand, you don't want him to further hurt his shoulder.
The good news is that the shoulder injury doesn't seem to be serious. The Jaguars have already ruled out three players for Week 2 of the preseason, defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi, defensive back Antonio Johnson, and offensive tackle Josh Wells. However, they haven't said anything about Harrison, so it looks like he'll play.
Shoulder injury aside, it will be interesting to see how much playing time Harrison gets. The Lions already announced they'll be resting their starters. Meanwhile, the Jags' plan for Saturday remains under wraps as of this writing. Usually, teams give their starters the most snaps in Week 2. Jacksonville could decide to give theirs ample work against the Lions and rest them for the finale, so they can be ready for the opener.
The bottom line is that Harrison has done enough to make the Jaguars feel good about him starting on Day 1. It will be great if he can suit up against Detroit but it won't be a big deal if he doesn't.