JACKSONVILLE – They were offense-centric early. Heavily so.
The Jaguars followed that with a Day 3 that was expectedly very long, very busy and – also expectedly – very, very defensive.
Add in a heavy dose of Day 3 special teams and four trades overall, and that's the Jaguars’ 2023 NFL Draft. It was the largest draft class in franchise history, a versatile class that left Head Coach Doug Pederson and General Manager Trent Baalke optimistic. And pleased.
"We felt really good about the group we got," Baalke said after the Jaguars selected 10 players in Day 3's final four rounds. "You're just always looking to get better.
"We're excited for this group to get them in here, just get our hands on them and see exactly what we got and let them show us what they can do."
Baalke, in his third season as the Jaguars' general manager, spoke along with Pederson early Saturday evening at TIAA Bank Field. This was just after a Day 3 that featured seven defensive players and three offensive players.
"These guys on this list, these are [good] football players," Pederson said. "These are high character, but these guys all love football – and they're good people first."
The Jaguars, after entering the draft with nine selections, selected 13 players overall:
- Anton Harrison, offensive tackle, Oklahoma: No. 27 overall (Round 1). The Jaguars on Thursday traded the No. 24 selection to the New York Giants for the Nos. 25 (Round 1), 160 (Round 5) and 240 (Round 7) selections. They then traded the No. 25 selection to the Buffalo Bills for the Nos. 27 and 130 selections (Round 4),
- Brenton Strange, tight end, Penn State: No. 61 overall (Round 2). The Jaguars on Friday traded the No. 56 selection to the Chicago Bears for the Nos. 61 and 136 selections (Round 5).
- Tank Bigsby, running back, Auburn: No. 88 overall (Round 3). This was the first selection of the '23 Jaguars draft that didn't involve a trade back.
- Ventrell Miller, linebacker, Florida: No. 121 overall (Round 4).
- Tyler Lacy, defensive end, Oklahoma State: No. 130 overall (Round 4).
- Yasir Abdullah, linebacker, Louisville: No. 136 (Round 5).
- Antonio Johnson, safety, Texas A&M: No. 160 (Round 5).
- Parker Washington, wide receiver, Penn State: No. 185 (Round 6).
- Christian Braswell, cornerback Rutgers: No. 202 (Round 6).
- Eric Hallett II, safety, Pittsburgh: No. 208 (Round 6).
- Cooper Hodges, offensive tackle, Appalachian State: No. 226 (Round 7).
- Raymond Vohasek, defensive tackle, North Carolina: No. 227 (Round 7). The Jaguars earlier Saturday traded the No. 127 overall selection to the New Orleans Saints for this selection and a fourth-round 2024 selection.
- Derek Parish, fullback, Houston: No. 240 (Round 7).
"We just wanted to add good football players," Baalke said. "You never go wrong adding guys that love to play the game, that are smart and competent guys. Versatility … we use that word a lot, but a lot of the guys, they have versatility."
Baalke and Pederson since Pederson's February 2022 hiring have talked of the need to be a draft-and-develop team. Baalke was asked if this class represented a step toward that.
"We're going to find out over the next couple of months and, really, years," Baalke said. "We feel really good today about the group that we've been able to assemble over the last three days, but now it's up to them. They've got a seat, a chair in the locker room and that's all they have at this point.
"Where they fit on the roster, that's up to them to show us exactly where that lies."
The Jaguars' four trades down netted four additional selections throughout the draft. Baalke said they attempted to trade up multiple times throughout the second two days.
"We tried to trade up today," Baalke said. "We went through 15 or 16 teams when we were trying to trade up – every team behind us. Not one would make a move. That happened to us several times. The times we were able to trade back, we just felt that the time that we could trade back and get the players that we were planning on picking anyway.
"We were able to do that. It's just how the draft went this year."
Baalke said the additional late-round selections proved beneficial in collegiate free agency. Baalke said the team expects to add 10 players through that process, with multiple players who might have been free agents being selected in the later rounds.
"When you have 13 picks, it allows you to draft some of those guys that you would normally be fighting for in college free agency," Baalke said, also emphasizing that the end of the draft does not mean the end of offseason.
Baalke said the Jaguars exit the draft with the salary cap in a good situation, adding that the Jaguars are "a lot less tight on the cap than we were a year ago."
"There's room to work here," Baalke said. "Coach and I talked about this right after the draft. We're not done putting this team together. We're going to take a hard look at what we have. We got a great chance with these young guys coming in, watching them as they go through the offseason program and really kind of assess where we're at as an offense, as a defense and special teams – as a team in general.
"We'll make some decisions from there. I would expect us to continue to make some moves. How big they are or how small they are, that remains to be seen, but we're not done. We're going to continue to work to build this team and make it as potent as we can going into the regular season."
Introducing the future of the Jacksonville Jaguars: a photo gallery of the 2023 Draft Class.