Right tackle Jawaan Taylor had a career year in 2022 and became a free agent earlier this year. Instead, of giving him a top-market contract, the Jacksonville Jaguars took drafted Anton Harrison 27th overall to fill the void at the position. So far, Harrison has been everything the Jags expected and then some. In fact, the former Oklahoma Sooner cracked CBS Sports' Midseason All-Rookie Team.
Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports put together an All-Pro Rookie team at the midpoint of the 2023 season and chose Harrison for the right tackle slot, noting that he got off to a slow start but he's gotten much better, especially as a run blocker. On the other hand, Trappasso points out that Harrison has had some rough outings in pass protection lately.
"Wright started slowly -- particularly in pass pro, where he excelled at Tennessee -- and has slowly but surely come into his own getting downhill as a lane-paver for the run game. Harrison's had the opposite experience. He started outstandingly in pass pro and has fallen on some hard times of late. "
Trapasso goes on to say that Harrison's wins protecting Trevor Lawrence have been "Encouraging, balanced and powerful."
As Trapasso noted, Harrison has struggled at times. He had a hard time containing Cameron Jordan and T.J. Watt the past two games. However, he's also flashed potential. Against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 6, he gave up no pressures and posted a season-high Pro Football Focus offensive grade of 74.4. Similarly, his pass-blocking grade of 83.5 was the highest among right tackles in the NFL that week. O
As head coach Doug Pederson noted after the Steelers game, going against players of Watt's caliber will only help Harrison get better, a baptism by fire if you will.
The Jaguars originally had the 24th pick in the draft but traded twice because they felt they could get their guy, and they did. First, they swapped spots with the New Giants and got the No. 25 selection. And after some assurances from Buffalo Bills manager Brandon Beane that they weren't taking an offensive tackle, the Jags moved back to 27th, where Jacksonville got Harrison.
Letting Jawaan Taylor walk, draft Anton Harrison has paid off for the Jacksonville Jaguars
At the time of the draft, left guard, cornerback, and tight end seemed to be the team's biggest needs. However, Jacksonville chose Harrison to fill the void Jawaan Taylor left. The coaching staff could've moved Walker Little to right tackle but that wasn't feasible due to the four-game suspension Cam Robinson got to start the 2023 season for violations to the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. All things considered, going with Harrison was the right call.
Mostly a left tackle in college, Harrison moved to the right side with the Jags. So not only did he have to make the transition to the pros, but the Washington D.C. native also had to switch sides. So far, he's handled it well. Conversely, Jawaan Taylor isn't doing so well. While he hasn't been dreadful, the Kansas City Chiefs must be wondering if they should've given him a four-year deal worth $80 million. Taylor was benched a couple times early in the season and had a facemask penalty that led to a safety in Week 5.
You won't hear Anton Harrison's name often when discussing the reasons the Jacksonville Jaguars are 6-2 heading into their BYE. However, the rookie right tackle has done his job and is one of the many key contributors who have made the team's recent success possible.