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Jaguars Rookie Review: What Did the Day 3 Picks Show in 2023?

How did the Jaguars' Day 3 picks play in 2023?

The Jaguars selected 13 players in the 2023 draft, the most in franchise history. However, most of these picks came between the 5th and 7th rounds. Some rookies showed flashes of promise in 2023, while others rarely saw the field for a variety of reasons.

To break down the class, we take a look at their top Day 3 selections. 

Parker Washington

Although Evan Engram and Calvin Ridley handled the bulk of the pass-catching for the Jaguars in 2023, Parker Washington added needed depth in critical times throughout the season.

At Penn State, Washington was one of the most reliable receivers in program history. He ranks among the top-15 in program history in receptions, yards and receiving touchdowns.

Despite being a sixth round pick, the Penn State product was a hot commodity around the league before taking his first NFL regular season snap. In September, General Manager Trent Baalke admitted that several teams reached out about possibly acquiring Washington prior to the season.

2023 Season

At 5 foot 9 and 212 pounds, Washington is built more like a traditional running back than a wide receiver.

His stout lower body prevents defenders from easily knocking him off his route, which is crucial for a receiver who is going to regularly operate out of the slot. Washington is comfortable working in traffic, his ability to dip his shoulder and “get skinny” makes it tough for linebackers and safeties to get a hand on him during his routes.

Although he is shorter than the average wide receiver, he has an impressive catch radius.

When catching the ball, Washington does a solid job at squaring his shoulders and framing his body in a way that allows for minimal interference from the defender. In his 19 yard touchdown against the Browns, Washington ran a typical slot fade route, but his ability to throttle down and adjust his speed/positioning allowed him to haul in the back shoulder throw.

While he does not have overwhelming speed, he picks up velocity quickly. After just 3 or 4 steps, Washington is already approaching a full sprint. His exceptional acceleration makes him a threat in space on screen passes and “quick-hit” throws like outs and option routes.

Washington would benefit from taking full advantage of his quickness. On short routes (hitch, slant, out), Washington telegraphs his routes sometimes rather than running full speed and coming to a sudden stop. If Washington did a better job at “selling” every route like he was running a deep route, he would threaten the defender and generate more cushion.

Going into his second season, I expect Washington’s development as a blocker to have a large impact on how much playing time he sees. He possesses the strength and leverage to be an effective blocker on the perimeter, but adjusting to the physicality and athleticism of the NFL will likely take him some time.

Antonio Johnson

According to most draft boards, Johnson was expected to be picked in the first 3 rounds. The 2022 All-SEC first team safety slid all the way to the fifth round, where the Jaguars selected him with the 160th pick of the draft.

Throughout his time at Texas A&M, Johnson excelled as a run-stopper, but he rarely was asked to step out of his comfort zone and cover the opposing team's top receivers/tight ends.

In 3 years in College Station, Johnson finished with 164 career tackles, 4 forced fumbles and 1 interception.

2023 Season

At 6 foot 3 and 198 pounds, Johnson has the size to match up against tight ends and larger receivers if he improves his coverage skills.

The former Aggie’s long arms allow him to “slow play” routes by putting a hand on receivers without having to sacrifice his footwork and chase the route.

However, his length can be detrimental at times. Johnson often jabs at route runners with his hands early into the play, which can be effective. But if Johnson overcommits and doesn’t successfully get a hand on the receiver, he can find himself flat-footed with little time to recover.

Johnson isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. He instinctively has a nose for the ball, easily shedding blocks from smaller receivers on outside run plays or screen passes.

In college, Johnson took advantage of his size when making tackles, often simply throwing a shoulder into ball-carriers rather than having to wrap them up. In the NFL, this technique will not fly, and that has been evident. As his second season approaches, Johnson would be most effective as a more polished tackler.

Tyler Lacy

After a disappointing season from the Jaguars interior line in 2023, the team would greatly benefit from Tyler Lacy making a jump next season.

Lacy fought through a hip injury early in the season, but he still managed to appear in 10 games throughout the year. As a four-year starter at Oklahoma State, Lacy proved his durability by starting 40 straight games.

Although there is certainly room for improvement, Lacy’s performance in 2023 was encouraging for a Day 3 pick.

2023 Season

When evaluating the film, Lacy’s high-running motor immediately stood out. While he doesn't receive as much playing time as the starters, his effort outshined other defensive lineman.

At 6 foot 4 and 285 pounds, Lacy is surprisingly nimble. The Oklahoma State Product moves laterally very well, particularly across the line of scrimmage. His ability to cover so much ground can be lethal, especially if he develops more rushing moves that land him in the backfield.

Despite his elusiveness, Lacy was very slow off the ball on several occasions throughout the season. At times, his fellow defensive linemen would already be engaged with a blocker while Lacy is still getting out of his stance. His slow starts seem to be a product of his technique and flexibility, not a poor display of effort.

His sluggish start can partially be attributed to his high pad level. Lacy would be able to generate more force from his base if he stayed lower to the ground, likely leading to more efficient and explosive movements off the line of scrimmage.