JACKSONVILLE – This is one area in which Trent Baalke won't overprepare.
It's not that the Jaguars' general manager won't be ready to trade during the 2023 NFL Draft. It's just that he won't spend much time beforehand exploring possibilities.
"It's just too hard to play out," Baalke said during Thursday’s 2023 pre-draft luncheon.
Baalke, in his third season as the Jaguars' general manager, said he won't feel any pressure to trade in either direction from the No. 24 overall selection in Round 1 – and a trade is possible with any of the team's nine selections in the draft, which will begin Thursday.
But he said there's little point in calling other general managers around the league in the coming days to explore potential trade partners in any round.
"I rarely, if ever, have had conversations pre-draft about trying to move," Baalke said. "There's too much that can happen, there's too many scenarios to play out in your mind. I think as the board starts to unfold, you get a better feel for how it's trending, and you start picking up the phone at the appropriate time.
"You can sit in that room to nauseam and go through it all. Then, the draft happens, and three picks into it, all your work is shot, and you've got to swing from the hip anyways. I think you're just better off seeing the board, trusting the board, the value is set, and then letting it unfold."
- Head Coach Doug Pederson throughout his first season with the Jaguars spoke of a strong culture being created, and he and Baalke said that will remain a focus during the draft. Pederson added that the culture has become strong enough to allow the Jaguars to select players who perhaps aren't a perfect fit. "For me as the head coach, I give a lot of responsibility back to the players, and this is where they handle the locker room," Pederson said. "I don't want to micromanage the locker room whatsoever, but we have such a great group of guys down there that if there is a guy, whether we trade for a guy or draft a guy or there's a free agent or something …maybe he's not a culture fit, but we still sign the guy. Our locker room can handle that. We can absorb that."
- Baalke said he expects the Jaguars will be in line for multiple compensatory draft selections in 2024. The NFL rewards compensatory selections based on free-agency gains and losses from the previous offseason. The Jaguars lost right tackle Jawaan Taylor as an unrestricted free agent to the Kansas City Chiefs and outside linebacker Arden Key to the Tennessee Titans this offseason. "We're on schedule to get a third for sure, possibly a fifth or sixth for sure, and then the possibility of adding a couple of sevenths depending on how some things play out," Baalke said. "I think we will have two for sure, with the ability to have up to four."
- Baalke on need and value in the draft: "You're always balancing need and value – and really, each year the board is different. There are different strengths and weaknesses in every draft. Some years, the O-line, D-line are more prominent than maybe the edge guys or vice-versa, inside versus out. You're still setting the board based on value. Once you've got the board set on value, then you start looking at the needs. You don't want to push players up the board value-wise just because you have a need at that position. Most of the time, the value and need come together. Very few times have I looked at the board and said there's just no value at the position of need we have."
- As Baalke sees it, the expected run on quarterbacks at the top of Round 1 could help the Jaguars, with some analysts believing five quarterbacks could be selected in the 15-to-20 selections. The Jaguars select No. 24 overall, but are not expected to be in the quarterback market because of the presence of third-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence. "When you don't need a quarterback, and there's four or five of them in the draft, that people are coveting, you know at least five guys are going to go up in there, it is going to push everybody back down," Baalke said. "You hope there's other positions that aren't real needs of yours that are heavy at the top end, too, because that will continue to push guys down."