PFF: Jaguars picked ‘great next man up’ in OL Javon Foster

Brian Thomas Jr. presents a high-ceiling deep threat for Jacksonville to infuse into passing offense after his breakout 2023 season at LSU; Maason Smith could become a disruptive force on the Jaguars’ defensive line if he returns to pre-injury form from early in his college career.

Most of Jacksonville’s 2024 NFL draft picks by the club meet a similar description: they possess great potential as NFL prospects, even if they weren’t consistently productive in college.

But Pro Football Focus analyst Trevor Sikkema went a different route while determining his favorite selection from Jacksonville’s draft. He moved away from the bountiful upside prospects with eyes on a player who seemingly doesn’t have as much to prove in his transition to the pros.

That player is Jacksonville’s first fourth-round choice, offensive tackle Javon Foster from Missouri.

The Jaguars took fliers on some higher-ceiling athletes with their first three picks of the draft, but their fourth pick might have been my favorite: Javon Foster. Foster isn’t the elite-caliber athlete to garner a top-100 selection, but he started for three years in the SEC and consistently earned grades above 80.0 in all three campaigns. If the Jaguars ever have an injury to one of their starting offensive tackles, he is a great “next man up” to throw into the lineup. That depth is key.

Indeed, offensive line depth was identified as one of Jacksonville’s bigger needs entering the draft. although the team arguably could have benefitted from adding to its interior reserve. Foster profiles primarily as a tackle.

Still, Foster will occupy a crucial role moving forward for the Jaguars as the team’s swing tackle, according to general manager Trent Baalke, offering key depth on both sides of the line. Rising fourth-year lineman Walker Little has fulfilled a similar role over the past three seasons.

“We view him as swing tackle, a guy that can play left and right. He played primarily on the left side in college obviously, but went to the Senior Bowl and proved he could line up on the right side,” Baalke said about Foster on April 27.

“You start him out in a swing position. That’s for the coaches to settle in on what his role is going to be. But really like the size, the length, two-time captain, leader in the SEC, [41]-game starter. A lot of things that played into the pick.”

Foster appeared in 50 games over six seasons with Missouri, all but two offensively, and made 39 starts at left tackle with two at right tackle. He logged 2,939 offensive snaps with the Tigers and allowed eight sacks in his college career, per PFF.

Jacksonville’s starting offensive tackle tandem entering the 2024 season consists of Cam Robinson on the left side and Anton Harrison on the right, entering their eighth and second seasons, respectively.

Robinson has missed 14 games over the last three seasons due to a suspension in 2023 and multiple injuries along the way.

Story originally appeared on Jaguars Wire