Anton Harrison embraces the task with Jaguars: ‘Pressure makes diamonds’

First-round draft pick has the potential to be a Week 1 starter

Jacksonville Jaguars first-round draft pick offensive lineman Anton Harrison, second from right, poses for the media with team owner Shad Khan, left, head coach Doug Pederson, second from left, and general manager Trent Baalke, right, at an NFL football news conference in Jacksonville, Fla., Friday, April 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough) (Gary McCullough, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Shad Khan wanted to his newest draft pick to appreciate the moment. There’s plenty of work ahead.

But just for the afternoon, Khan wanted Anton Harrison to take it all in and cherish it.

“Enjoy the day. Pressure will come later,” Khan said to laughter.

That pressure will start quickly.

There’s a big hole at tackle on the offensive line and Harrison will look to fill it. That’s what the Jaguars drafted him for. And that’s the expectation for the 6-4, 315-pound tackle who will factor into the mix quicker than expected.

Harrison arrived in Jacksonville on Friday, toured TIAA Bank Field and met the Jaguars braintrust. It capped a whirlwind of a 24 hours for the Oklahoma product Harrison, who the Jaguars selected with the 27th pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night.

“I say really just strive under pressure,” Harrison said. “Pressure makes diamonds. Strive under pressure. Take it day by day, do what I did to get here.”

Jacksonville traded down twice and still managed to land the highest-rated offensive tackle left on the board.

“It wasn’t just about football, it was about his family, it was about his teammates, what he did during the week with his teammates to kind of build a bond,” said general manager Trent Baalke. “It’s the same thing we’re trying to build here, so it was a natural fit.”

Harrison fills an immediate need and a future one as well. Left tackle Cam Robinson ended last season injured reserve after tearing his meniscus and will reportedly start the year facing a suspension for performance enhancing drugs.

With right tackle Jawaan Taylor now in Kansas City, the Jaguars are suddenly in a pinch along the offensive line. Harrison has the potential to be the right (or left) tackle of the future in Jacksonville, and sooner than expected even a week ago.

“It’s the reason we took him in the first round. Everything about him: his skill set, how he fits, how he moves, the transition from right side to left side,” coach Doug Pederson said.

“His ability to not only pass block but come off the ball and have that mean streak in him as an offensive lineman in the run game. That’s what you see with him. That’s what we got excited about, obviously.”

Harrison played in 34 games at Oklahoma and made 24 starts. All but one of those came at left tackle, a spot he’s obviously more comfortable at. He started the season opener last year against UTEP at right tackle. Jacksonville saw the benefits of having a capable swing tackle in Walker Little and will likely entertain doing the same with Harrison.

“When I did it in college, I did it with not one practice at right tackle,” Harrison said. “It’s a smooth transition for me. I don’t think it will be that big of a transition.”

Little can play either tackle position, which has been a critical asset to have. He was in a training camp battle with Taylor at right tackle last season, a job that ultimately went to the former Gators star. But Little replaced the injured Robinson down the stretch and did a solid job at left tackle.

“Yeah, so I watched Jacksonville a lot last season. I know it’s a young team, exciting team. A lot going for them,” Harrison said. “I’m excited to be a part of it. I say I learned a lot just being here, since I been here, the family environment. Everybody loves being here, loves working here. I’m just glad to be here.”

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.