JACKSONVILLE – The night surprised Brenton Strange. Pleasantly so.
Strange, a four-year tight end from Penn State University, had little contact with the Jaguars entering the 2023 NFL Draft. The Jaguars selected him in the second round Friday with the No. 61 overall selection.
"I don't think there could be a better place for me," Strange said.
Strange (6-feet-3 7/8, 253 pounds) said while he expected to be a second-to-third-round selection, he had little idea the Jaguars would select him.
"I didn't know about the Jaguars at all," he said. "I didn't talk to them much, so it's a blessing to be on this team. It's a great team. We didn't have any interviews, anything. It was surprising when I got the call. But I'm thankful to be a part of this team.
"It's a great team, a lot of great players, and I'm looking forward to getting to work with them."
Strange said there are multiple reasons he considers his destination a blessing. One is the presence of a young offense, productive offense that includes third-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Another is Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson's reputation for using tight ends efficiently.
"I knew that that coach uses the tight ends just from watching him, and that everywhere he's been, he's had some great tight ends and he knows how to use them," Strange said. "I'm very excited."
Still another reason: The presence of veteran tight end Evan Engram, who Strange said he has watched closely in recent seasons and who cited Pederson as a reason for signing with the team as an unrestricted free agent last offseason.
"I've been watching him since college, taking bits and pieces from his game," Strange said. "He's a great player. I'm excited to get to work with the coaches, with the players, everybody."
Strange, who played four seasons at Penn State, caught 70 passes for 755 yards and 11 touchdowns in his college career. He caught 32 passes for 365 yards and five touchdowns in 2022. Strange was a third-team All-Big 10 selection as a senior, starting 26 games over the last two seasons.
"I would say definitely my best football is ahead of me," he said.
Strange is considered a versatile player who can contribute as a blocker and receiver. During a post-selection media availability Friday, he cited versatility as a strength.
"You can put me anywhere on the offense and be effective," he said, adding that he is comfortable playing H-back and fullback in addition to traditional tight end. "You can put me in multiple different positions to be able to impact the game. That's my best strength."
Strange called the Jaguars an "up-and-coming team" – and left little doubt that if he was surprised by Friday's events, he was very happy about them, too.
"I just can't wait to be a part of the team, help us win games and, and make plays for us," he said. "I can't wait to contribute and help make plays and get us to that step closer to the Super Bowl and, to be a playmaker, to be a difference-maker for this team.
"I'm very excited to get to work."