JACKSONVILLE – The big draft news Thursday was that there was little news.
But General Manager Trent Baalke did provide some insight into where the Jaguars stand a week before the 2023 NFL Draft. A few highlights:
- The Jaguars like their position at No. 24 overall in Round 1.
- Baalke has two-to-four players in mind there.
- He believes there's a good chance to get one of those players.
"We feel confident there's going to be a good player at No. 24," Baalke said, adding: "We have two or three guys we're really interested in, and we feel we have a good shot at those guys."
Added Baalke: "I'm just expecting the board's going to fall a certain way. We feel good about this group, this class, that there's going to be enough depth that there's going to be a player at a need position that we have value in that area that'll be there when we get there."
Baalke, entering his third season as the Jaguars' general manager, spoke along with Head Coach Doug Pederson at the team's 2023 pre-draft luncheon at TIAA Bank Field Thursday. The pair addressed multiple topics, including the status of tight end Evan Engram.
Engram, on whom the Jaguars placed the NFL's franchise tag in March, has not yet signed the tender associated with the tag and is not participating in the team's voluntary offseason program that began Monday. Baalke said the sides continue to work toward a long-term deal.
"That's the goal," Baalke said. "The goal is to get this thing done. These negotiations, there are always ups and downs as you go through the process. You're just trying to come to a common goal – to get him signed. I think we're trending that direction, you know, but we're not there yet.
"We'll work to get him signed to a long-term extension. Hopefully, we'll get that done."
Most of Thursday's availability focused on the draft, which will begin Thursday April 27 with the Jaguars holding nine selections: One in Round 1 (No. 24 overall), one in Round 2 (No. 56), one in Round 3 (No. 88), two in Round 4 (Nos. 121 and 127), one in Round 5 (No. 185), two in Round 6 (Nos. 202 and 208) and one in Round 7 (No. 226).
The Jaguars held the No. 1 overall selection in each of the last two drafts after finishing with the NFL's worst record in 2020 and 2021. They won the AFC South title in 2022.
"We certainly feel good about where we're at, and we're never complacent," Baalke said, with Pederson adding: "We love, obviously, picking later in the first round and not first as we did the last couple of years. There are going to be some good players there at No. 24. We're always looking to add talent, add depth, add competition. We're excited about that."
Baalke said the Jaguars currently have 127 "draftable" players on their draft board.
"We have a specific way we set up the board, so while it sounds like 127, there's more numbers baked in there," he said. "There are 127 we really feel fit the culture we want and fit the value that we have placed on them – if all the stars align.
"There are other fallbacks that we can go to, but really we're picking from 127."
Baalke said while such specifics can mean being more aggressive during the three-day draft, he doesn't feel pressure to trade up or down in any round.
"There's always a chance that we trade back or trade up," Baalke said. "I don't feel a need to necessarily trade back to pick up picks, but if the opportunity's there and we still feel like we get the same level of player, then we would make that decision."
Baalke and Pederson both said how a player fits into the Jaguars' locker room and culture are major considerations when evaluating players, with Pederson saying: "We feel like the who are on the board are all great fits for us."
Baalke called the Jaguars' current locker room "pretty special."
"We've got a great group of guys in there; we want to keep it that way," he said. "That doesn't mean we're not going to take some risks at times, but we're always going to mitigate that as much as possible.
"We've done a lot of work on these guys. Our board is not laden with guys. You figure 230-250 (259) guys get drafted, your odds dwindle on guys you consider draftable as the draft unfolds. The culture is huge. We spend a lot of time looking at these guys. Do they fit us? Do they not fit us? There are a lot of guys taken off the board because they just don't fit our culture.
"They're good players. They just don't fit what we're looking for."