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Only the Beginning for Offensive Lineman Anton Harrison

013124 Anton Insider

JACKSONVILLE – He did what was needed, perhaps better than expected.

Anton Harrison started 17 games at right tackle as a Jaguars rookie in 2023, improving throughout the season and proving himself the most-contributing member of the team's '23 draft class.

A good season – and a good start – for a good player.

"There's still a lot of room to grow," Harrison said shortly after the 2023 season. "But for my first year here, and doing what I did, I feel like it was pretty good."

"We expect great things from him," Baalke said last week.

Harrison, the No. 27 overall selection by the Jaguars in the 2023 NFL Draft, not only started all 17 games as a rookie, he did so after sustaining a shoulder injury during training camp. He reportedly underwent minor surgery on the shoulder following the season.

"Anton had a heck of a season," Head Coach Doug Pederson said. "He played hurt and banged up and he had a [top-quality] edge rusher every week, just about. He held up really well. I know our guys talking about him know that he's going to be a great player. That's one we're excited about."

Harrison indeed faced a strong rusher many weeks in 2023, a list that included Chris Jones of the Kansas City Chiefs, Nick Bosa of the San Francisco 49ers and T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"Coming into the National Football League and going up mano-mano on some of the best pass rushers, a gauntlet of pass rushers throughout the course of the year; you look at the pressure rate that he gave up and a guy that wasn't given a lot of help in terms of chips and double teams and protection," Baalke said. "You have to be nothing but proud of how he handled himself as a rookie."

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Cincinnati Bengals

OL Anton Harrison (77)
"He's only going to get better. There's another young guy that really loves the game, loves to work and loves to compete." Trent Baalke, General Manager
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Carolina Panthers

OL Anton Harrison (77)

Added Harrison, "It was a lot. Coming from college, you don't see that many guys so different. Every week, it was somebody different and they did different things. They were good at this thing, bad at this thing. The change up every week was the thing I really had to focus on."

With Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson entering the last season of his contract in 2024, and with Robinson having a high salary-cap number, some observers have speculated that Harrison could play left tackle in 2024. Baalke speaking to the media last week declined to "commit to anything right now" in terms of players who would and wouldn't return, adding of Harrison:

"Do we feel like he can play left? Absolutely we do."

Harrison of his future position said: "That's up to the coach. I feel like I could play either. I feel like I had a good year on my first year at right tackle and it's all from growing from here, but I could still do both sides."

Harrison said he focused this season and improved by "really just knowing what I needed to do to be better, the speed of the game, just knowing the little things that are going make me be one of the best in my position and that's what I tried to improve on every week."

Harrison according to one measure allowed the lowest pressure rate of any NFL rookie offensive tackle in 2023 with 27 pressures in 17 starts.

"I feel like we all grew this season, especially me coming into the first year and playing the games I played – big games," he said. "It's only up from here. I have confidence in myself to become better next year and become way better than I was this year."

A look at other Jaguars rookies who played contributing roles in 2023:

  • Brenton Strange, tight end, Penn State, Round 2 (No. 61 overall). He started four of 14 games played, catching five passes for 35 yards and a touchdown.
  • Tank Bigsby, running back, Auburn, Round 3 (No. 88). He played as a reserve behind starter Travis Etienne Jr. in all 17 games, rushing for 132 yards and two touchdowns on 50 carries. He also caught a pass for six yards and returned four kickoffs for 99 yards.
  • Tyler Lacy, defensive lineman, Oklahoma State, Round 4 (No. 136). He played as a reserve in 15 games, registering 12 tackles – five solo – with one tackle for loss, three quarterback hurries and a pass defensed.
  • Antonio Johnson, safety, Texas A&M, Round 5 (No. 160). He started three of 13 games played after missing the first four games of the season with a hamstring injury, and he registered two interceptions and three pass defensed with 14 tackles – 11 solo – and a forced fumble.
  • Parker Washington, wide receiver, Penn State, Round 6 (No. 185). He played in nine games, moving into a key role when starter Christian Kirk sustained a season-ending injury in Week 13. He caught 16 passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns, also returning two punts for a 25.5-yard average.

"I really liked our rookie class (2023)," Pederson said. "These guys really stepped up this year, they were asked to do a lot. I thought Tank really improved as the season went on. He's a bright spot. I'm excited about that. Brenton the same way; I think we can do more to get him involved offensively. That's something that we'll look at this spring. It's been a good class, a lot of contributors there and I'm looking forward to them helping us in the future."

Fight. On. The. Line. Swipe through best shots of the Jaguars offensive line in the 2023 season ➡️

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