Signs point to the Jacksonville Jaguars taking a pass rusher with the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft based on all the moves they made in free agency. Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchison currently seems to be the favorite to get the call, but what if it’s someone else? Analyst Maurice Jones-Drew believes that’s the case.
In a recent mock draft, Jones-Drew sees Georgia defensive end Travon Walker landing in Jacksonville at No. 1. The former Jaguars running back quotes fellow NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks, who says there’s plenty of buzz surrounding Walker after an outstanding performance at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. Jones-Drew describes the former Bulldog as a “versatile defender capable of playing anywhere on the D-Line“.
Brooks says Walker displayed “dynamic movement skills, balance and body control at the scouting combine and believes that he didn’t exactly stand out at Georgia partially because the defense was stacked with NFL-caliber talent. However, he says scouts are “captivated by his flexibility to play different positions“.
"Although his production at Georgia didn’t exactly blow you away, that’s at least partially due to the fact that the Bulldogs’ defense was overflowing with NFL talent competing for playing time and stats. Scouts and coaches are captivated with Walker’s potential to play a variety of roles as a hybrid front-line defender with the capacity to align anywhere from nose tackle to edge rusher in a 3-4 or 4-3 front."
Would the Jaguars pass on Aidan Hutchinson with the top pick in the draft?
In three collegiate seasons, Walker logged 9.5 sacks, 13 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble, and an interception. He certainly has the athletic traits to thrive in the NFL but would he be a reach at No.1? Draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah has him going to the Detriot Lions at No. 2 but CBS Sports has him ranked as the third-best pass rusher in this draft class and Derrik Klassen of the Bleacher Report scouting department sees the Baltimore Ravens drafting him 14th overall.
Klassen praises Walker’s skills against the run and just like Brooks, he thinks he could lineup anywhere across the defensive line. However, he notes that he lacks consistency in passing downs and has to work on his pass-rush skills, which is why he might not be ranked as high as Aidan Hutchinson, who may be ready to start in the NFL from Day 1.
As Brooks said, Walker’s performance in the combine raised his stock but that doesn’t mean he should be the Jaguars’ pick at No. 1. Maybe if Jacksonville were to trade down, Walker would become a realistic choice but at this moment, Hutchinson should be the pick if the draft were held today.
The Jaguars have taken several steps towards improving this offseason. They were aggressive in free agency and now need to nail the draft. Hutchinson at No. 1 would give them a bookend pass rusher opposite outside linebacker Josh Allen, so it’s hard to see them taking anyone else.