Well, the wait is nearly over. The 2023 NFL Draft is just days away, and the Jacksonville Jaguars find themselves in an unfamiliar situation. The Jaguars have picked in the top-10 in 14 of the last 15 drafts, but will pick at 24 on Thursday night.
We’ve been talking about the draft for months on Brent & Friends and Overtime with Kuhrts and Middleton on ESPN 690, and I have found a few players I absolutely love in that time.
I have often wonder how many of them I could possibly get on the Jacksonville Jaguars in this draft, so after many mock draft simulators, and reading mock after mock from the national outlets, this is my 2023 Jacksonville Jaguars mock draft.
This is what I WOULD DO, not what I think they will do. Some of these moves are rather reckless, including trading up for a QB, but let’s do it!
With the 24th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select Brian Branch, DB, Alabama
If Brian Branch makes it all the way to 24, I can’t imagine the Jaguars making any other pick. There isn’t much to be said about Branch that hasn’t already been said by the dozens of mocks that have him coming to Jacksonville. He steps in as the Day 1 starter in the Jaguars biggest position of need, it isn’t sexy, but it’s a home run for the Jags.
Not enough love is being given to #Alabama S Brian Branch.— Jared Tokarz (@JaredNFLDraft) February 28, 2023
He’ll have an immediate impact in Nickel coverage. Physical & excels in both zone and man coverage.
Had an insane Sugar Bowl w/ 12 tackles, 4 TFLs, INT
So versatile and NFL ready
I believe there is a very real chance that Branch is gone by 24, but I think that would leave one of Lukas Van Ness, Nolan Smith, or Myles Murphy available at 24. Out of the three, I would take Van Ness, but any will do if Branch is gone.
With the 42nd pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
We have a trade. I’ve traded the 56th and 127th picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, and a 3rd-Round Pick in the 2024 NFL draft to the Packers for the 42nd pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Here we go. If you have heard me talk on the radio in the past two months, I was likely talking about Darnell Washington. 6′7″ 270 lbs with a 4.6 40, Washington is a special, special athlete.
Washington slots right into the most underrated loss of the Jaguars offseason, Chris Manhertz and his high-level blocking. Washington comes in as the far and away best blocking tight end in the class, and is described by scouts as having the “power and drive-blocking ability of a tackle.” Manhertz played 38% of the offensive snaps for the Jags last season, and with no replacement on the roster, you will not find a better one than Washington.
However, it seems you can’t be a tight end in the NFL anymore without the pass-catching ability. The knock on Washington has been his lack of production at Georgia. With only 45 catches and 774 yards in his career, some would see that as concerning. I do not.
Darnell Washington leads this class of tight ends in career...— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) April 23, 2023
*takes a deep breath*
...yards per target average, depth-adjusted yards per target, yards per reception, missed tackles forced per reception, yards after the catch per reception, *and* explosive play rate.
Washington has been playing next to the best tight end in college football in Brock Bowers, and has excelled in the role he’s had. There is still work to do in the receiving game for Washington, if only he was going to a team that had a head coach with an extensive resume in developing tight ends…
Doug Pederson would have an entire year to work Washington into the elite pass catcher I believe he can be, as Evan Engram will once again carry the load for the Jags at the position in 2023. With the long-term future of Engram in an uncertain place with the Jaguars, Washington is the future of the position.
In 2023, you get Dan Arnold and Chris Manhertz in one player with Washington, solidifying the room for Jacksonville this season.
I will end this with the line I have used to describe Washington many times on the shows, “they just don’t make people like that”
Washington will be an elite tight end in the NFL, hopefully it’s in Jacksonville.
With the 88th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select Chandler Zavala, G, NC State
In the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Jaguars found their next franchise center in Luke Fortner, and in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft, Chandler Zavala should be their next franchise left guard, solidifying the offensive line for the foreseeable future.
Zavala has been elite for the NC State Wolfpack the last two seasons, in which he hasn’t allowed a single sack. Not one. Zavala has been a left guard his entire college career, the position he would play in Jacksonville.
Chandler Zavala’s career in pass protection:— PFF College (@PFF_College) April 23, 2023
🐺 615 Pass Block Snaps
🐺 Zero Sacks Allowed
🐺 1 QB Hit Allowed pic.twitter.com/4HQM1BR6Z2
Zavala was late to start playing football, only playing one season in high school. After starting at Fairmont State, Zavala joined NC State in 2021, but missed seven games with a back injury that required surgery.
All of those reasons play into the fact Zavala’s name is a bit under the radar, but at 6′5″ 325 lbs, Zavala has the measurables and talent to be a quality player in the NFL.
With the 121st pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select Jaquelin Roy, DT, LSU
This was one of the tougher picks to make, I was torn between Jaquelin Roy and Isaiah McGuire, the EDGE rusher from Missouri, but I went with Roy. Although EDGE is a position of need for the Jaguars, interior pass rush is the bigger concern, that gets talk about less.
Roy gives you the immediate threat of interior push, as he is thought of as one of the better pass rushing defensive tackles in the draft this season. However, Roy had a rough showing at the combine, and followed it up with another iffy outing at his pro day, which makes it hard to predict his draft window. Anywhere from 90-150 makes sense for Roy, and he shouldn’t be passed on at 121.
LSU DT Jaquelin Roy met with the #Jaguars following his proday today, He’s scheduled to visit the the #Cowboys and #Eagles next week. Roy today ran a 5.13 40, which would have ranked among the fastest for nose tackles at the Combine.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 30, 2023
Roy isn’t someone the Jaguars would ask to stop the run, leave that to DaVon Hamilton. Roy gives Jacksonville another rotational option to rush the passer in the interior, and hopefully is someone they can develop into a four-to-five sack player every season.
With the 140th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select Dorian-Thompson Robinson, QB, UCLA
We have another trade. I have traded the 185th and 202nd picks in the 2023 NFL Draft and a 2024 5th-round pick for the 140th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Alright, here me out. I understand this is a bit to give up for a football player who will quite literally never play, but trust me, Dorian-Thompson Robinson is a special talent.
Throwing for over 3K and running for nearly 650 yards with 39 total touchdowns last season at UCLA, DTR is exactly what teams are trying to find in the current landscape of the NFL, a mobile QB who can throw. His game fits exactly what is working in the NFL, and he would be an elite backup for Trevor Lawrence.
And if you don’t think backup is that important, just look at the 49ers last season. Or ask the Dolphins or Jets how bad they wish they had one in 2022.
But yes, I won’t deny giving up three picks for someone who won’t play is a bit reckless, but you will understand when DTR goes 21/29 for 233 yards and a touchdown in the air plus another 45 and a touchdown on the ground in Week 18 against the Texans when Trevor Lawrence is resting for the playoffs.
With the 208th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select Puka Nacua, WR, BYU
I really like Puka Nacua, and before you say “how excited can you really be for a 6th-round WR” just give me a second.
At 6′2″ Nacua already becomes the tallest receiver in Jacksonville (along with Zay Jones who is also 6′2″) and is coming off back-to-back 600+ yard, 5+ touchdown seasons at BYU.
Nacua is a big-play receiver, who runs clean routes, and gives the Jaguars a nice depth player with talent in the WR room.
Here were the top 5 WRs in YPRR last season.— Nick Penticoff (@NickPenticoff) April 24, 2023
Puka Nacua 4.3
Jalin Hyatt 3.5
Quentin Johnston 3.5
Rashee Rice 3.3
Trey Palmer 3.3#NFLDraft2023
In the immediate, Nacua is a strong special teams talent who should work his way into a few wide receiver opportunities in 2023, and more going forward.
With the 226th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select Chris Rodriguez Jr., RB, Kentucky
Do not sleep on Chris Rodriguez Jr. There is no reason Rodriguez should be drafted this low, but with the devaluation of the running back in the current NFL, someone is getting a steal with Rodriguez. So why not Jacksonville?
Rodriguez split carries for the majority of his time at Kentucky, but averaged 6.2 yards per carry on his 592 attempts since 2018 at Kentucky.
36 total touchdowns in 40 career games shows how important he was to the Wildcats during his long tenure with them, and his power-back nature would be a nice complement to Travis Etienne in Jacksonville.
Even drafted this low, Rodriguez is someone who should have NFL carries in 2023.
Yes, you read that correctly - seven picks, two trades, even a QB, and no EDGE rusher. I CAN EXPLAIN…
The biggest need for the Jacksonville Jaguars is slot corner, you get an elite one with Brian Branch.
I believe Darnell Washington is a generational talent at tight end, there comes a point that you do whatever it takes to get Darnell Washington. So for me, EDGE doesn’t come into play until pick 88.
The belief is that players like Andre Carter II, Byron Young, Zach Harrison, and Isaiah McGuire will be available at 88, but the upside and value of Zavala is SO much higher. I believe Zavala is a franchise left guard, and getting that player at 88 holds immense value over a rotational EDGE rusher.
Roy over McGuire was a conversation at 121, but interior push over EDGE push won the day. And then I traded a bunch of picks for a QB…
So yes, not an EDGE to be found for my draft. But hey, value is value. Again, this is what I WOULD DO, not what I think they will do on Thursday night. That is coming soon…
Also, the number one player I wanted that I just couldn’t get - A.T. Perry from Wake Forest. This guy is a certified problem for the league. Don’t let him go to Kansas City
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