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O-Zone: Don't force it

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

KC from Orlando, FL

KOAF - I'm scratching my head over Day 2 selections. Can you help make sense of it for me? I really thought we would be addressing cornerback and outside linebacker after offensive tackle, but I was really wrong. What are your expectations for Day 3?

The Jaguars on Friday selected two players on Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft – Penn State tight end Brenton Strange and Auburn running back Tank Bigsby. That means the Jaguars selected three offensive players with the first three selections of the draft. The Jaguars didn't enter the draft with that as the objective. That's how their grades and needs dictated they select at the time. I also thought they would select a cornerback on Day 2. If there's a surprise of the draft for me, that's it. And I also thought perhaps they would address outside linebacker. I don't doubt they wanted to do both. But when it came time to make those Day 2 selections, Strange and Bigsby were the highest-valued players that met needs. I expect the Jaguars will try to trade up with their 10 Day 3 selections, and I expect them to be aggressive – particularly in trying to acquire a cornerback. I can't predict how successful they will be trying to do so. We'll see what the day brings.

Sascha from Cologne, Germany

Hey, John. Can you try to explain why the Jags traded down again and collected picks in a draft which is considered not so deep? And why we are drafting a running back in Round 3 instead of defense? Especially a DB? I know they stay to their board but that doesn't feel like a good draft this year.

The Jaguars traded down in Rounds 1 and 2 because they could get the same players they wanted there before and after trading. They planned to use some of their low-round draft equity to move back into Round 3 and were unable to do so. The Jaguars selected Bigsby at No. 88 because they believed he was the best value there – and because they wanted to strengthen the running back room. Pederson likes to play more of a running-back-by-committee approach than they were able to do last season. The running-back room also needed a more between-the-tackles, power runner. As Pederson and General Manager Baalke saw it, Bigsby addressed both needs. I was surprised the Jaguars didn't address cornerback already. But that wasn't how the board fell. As far as how the draft overall feels … it feels like a draft. It feels like the Jaguars drafted for value. We'll know if it was good in a couple of years.

Paul from Lake City, FL

I hope we develop better than we draft.

One not fer Day 2 …

Tom from Uptown St. Johns

It was so much fun to sit and watch the Jags proudly show they could wear big-boy pants with the best of the teams. A smug sureness as they calmly maneuvered their way through the maze of needs, best avails and likes. No panic. No grabbing at a name to make a splash. Just working the draft to build onto and improve their magical season last year. To add the kind of depth their first two picks should provide and still have more picks left than they started with. Sorta looks like the big boy pants fit and the beginning of an outstanding 2023 draft will be the reward.

…. and one fer Day 2.

Unimpressed from Just shy of the Ditch

So, trade down, get more picks and then don't use them until the third day? C'Mon Man, how many make the roster fourth round and after? Have we not learned to capitalize?

I'm not sure what your second question means. While I understand the concern/frustration of many fans over the Jaguars not trading up on Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft, the reality is the Jaguars tried to do so. Baalke said late Friday night the team tried to trade back into Round 3 after selecting Bigsby at No. 88. They couldn't find a partner. But that doesn't mean the trades were a mistake. They traded back a total of eight spots in Rounds 1 and 2 and selected the players they coveted in those rounds – offensive tackle Anton Harrison and Strange. This was still equity gained at minimal – if any – cost. We'll see how – and if – the Jaguars use that equity in Rounds 4-7.

Jordan from Houston, TX

Seriously a tight end and a running back? THE DEFENSE NEEDS HELP!!! I get the OT because protecting quarterback Trevor Lawrence is always a good idea. But reaching for two positions that you don't need is mind boggling. What is happening?

The Jaguars didn't consider Bigsby and Strange reaches. They considered them the strongest values on the board as the time of the selections. They also considered them need selections. The NFL isn't about depth charts and starting 11s. The Jaguars wanted a stronger running back to complement Travis Etienne Jr. than they had on the roster and a more versatile tight end than they had on the roster to complement Evan Engram. They believe they acquired those on Day Two.

Nick from Virginia Beach, VA

The pass rush and inability to cover obviously doesn't mean anything to Baalke. Why no defense?

Because the players available at the time of the selections were more highly valued than defensive players at the time. That's not being snide. That's how it worked.

Eric from Columbus, IN

Ten picks on Day 3 in what everyone says is a weak draft? Why? Makes no sense when you're a player or two a way to fill your practice squad on day 3. Super confused why they just sat back and only traded backwards…

You can want to trade and try to trade. That doesn't mean someone wants to trade with you.

Mike from Cartersville (AKA Trevortown), GA

I would have liked to see a cornerback taken early. I also would like for the team to have 22 all pros. It makes me happy to see they have a strategy going into the draft, for example, we're going to make sure Trevor has success at every level and every position around him. That's logical. Making the decision that every spot around quarterback will be shored up and stocked with talent is a good strategy. Wow this offense is stacked with talent. Fair to expect a very impressive performance this year?

If there was a theme of Day 2, it was that the offense added two elements that really fit Pederson's style. One was a tight end that could allow him to utilize two-tight-end schemes as he did as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Another was a running back that could allow him to utilize the back-by-committee approach he did in Philadelphia. I'm intrigued by the balance and productivity these additions could add. Stay tuned.

Billy Joe from Bostwick, FL

After Day 2 of the NFL Draft, I'm not computing how the Jaguars have gotten better. The first-round pick isn't better than Cam Robinson or Jawaan Taylor at tackle. The second-round pick isn't better than the combination of Dan Arnold and Chris Manhertz at tight end. Was a third-round running back who is a noted butterfingers, can't catch the football and can't help on special teams really making the team better in a crowded running back room? The defense is unquestionably worse off talent-wise so far. So show me the light, O-Zone. How have the Jags become better on paper over last season's playoff team?

I'm never a believer a draft makes you better in Year One than the previous year's team. Teams generally improve by improving from within, particularly once rosters are as established as the Jaguars have become. The Jaguars will become better in 2023 if Lawrence continues to develop, if the offense as a whole develops in its second year in Pederson's system and if young defensive players drafted in 2022 – players such as linebacker Travon Walker and Devin Lloyd – take second-year jumps. A final thought: We don't know if Harrison or Strange will be improvements over the players you mentioned. Perhaps they won't be immediate improvements. Perhaps they will. But there's no reason they won't be better players over the course of their careers than those players, and you draft players for how they will contribute for the long-term.

Scott from Rehoboth Beach, DE, by way of JAX

O-man, Did you think the Jags would've taken well-needed, earlier-round defensive ends or defensive backs? Do they not like what the draft has to offer outside of the first round? I really thought they'd go heavy on defense to start this year.

I thought the Jaguars would have selected a cornerback in the first three rounds. And there were cornerbacks early they liked. The fact that they haven't selected one means they're sticking to value and not forcing players they don't like. That's a good thing, even if it's not a popular thing.