Tank Bigsby and the Jaguars 2023 NFL draft class is a work in progress

• The Jaguars need more from Tank Bigsby and the rest of their 2023 draft class if they want to contend next season.

Aug 26, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Tank Bigsby (4) runs the
Aug 26, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Tank Bigsby (4) runs the / Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars found a keeper when they selected offensive tackle Anton Harrison in the 2023 NFL Draft. However, the rest of their class left much to be desired. The Jags will need their sophomores, especially tight end Brenton Strange and running back Tank Bigsby, next season.

Harrison was a Day 1 starter. Having mostly lined up at left tackle at Oklahoma, he made the transition to the right side as a rookie. Although he endured a few rough stretches, he got better as the season progressed, giving up no sacks the last nine games.

But outside Harrison, the only player Jacksonville drafted last year who's set to have an impact is defensive back Antonio Johnson. A fifth-round selection, Johnson missed four games with a hamstring injury to start the season but once he was able to contribute, he made plays at nickel. The former Texas A&M Aggie finished the year with two interceptions, one forced fumble, and three passes defensed.

Johnson is now set to start next to Andre Cisco at safety after the team's brass released Rayshawn Jenkins in a cap-saving move. Given that Johnson's natural position is safety, he should have no trouble making the adjustment.

Meanwhile, Bigsby and Strange saw minimal playing time. In Bigsby's case, he struggled with fumbles and his poor awareness led to turnovers. By the end of the season, he had been phased out in favor of D'Ernest Johnson. Strange, for his part, fared well as a blocker but only had five receptions for 35 yards with a touchdown. It's fair to say that more was expected from both.

In fact, head coach Doug Pederson told the media at the NFL owners' meeting that the Jaguars want more from Bigsby.

"We got to get Tank going. Bottom line, he's too good. That's why we drafted him," Pederson said. "Early, he had some 'whoa, what's that kind of play.' And for whatever reason, right or wrong, he was in and out of the lineup, but he is a young player that we're excited about. Definitely, as we talked about last year, we can take some burden off of ETN a little bit, keep him healthy for the remainder of the season."

Some players from the 2023 NFL Draft class are ready to step up for the Jaguars

The Jaguars had nine picks to start the 2023 draft but ended up making 13 selections. However, their hit rate wasn't great. Heck, The Athletic recently ranked the Jacksonville 2023 haul as one of the worst in the league. The silver lining is that some of their late-round picks will have a chance to earn more playing time next season.

Parker Washington, a sixth-round pick, was pressed into action when Christian Kirk suffered a core injury late in the season. He flashed but needs to find more constancy if he wants to get playing time in 2024. On the other hand, players such as Tyler Lacey (Round 4), and Yasir Abdullah (Round 5) will need to step up if they want to get more snaps in the defensive line rotation. There's also cornerback Christian Braswell, who could get snaps at nickel if he shows out in training camp.

The bottom line is that the Jacksonville Jaguars did draft a handful of players who could eventually become steady contributors. However, their 2023 NFL Draft remains a work in progress, and much more is needed from it.

Here are more stories from Black & Teal: