For the second year in a row, the Jacksonville Jaguars hold the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. But unlike last year when Trevor Lawrence was the best prospect available, the Jags will have their fair share of choices. Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who visited the team Monday, is currently the favorite but there are other prospects that could go No.1. In fact, Charles Davis of NFL Media believes Jacksonville will go with Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker.
Davis recently shared his first mock draft of the year and had the Jags taking Walker with the top selection. Davis acknowledges that Hutchinson is expected to be the pick but argues that Walker’s upside will help him exceed his college production in the NFL.
"Surprise! Many expect this pick to be Michigan edge Aidan Hutchinson, and understandably so. But in this case, the Jags project that this young man’s NFL numbers will exceed his college ones. Gifted with great ability and a fine work ethic, Walker will pair well with Josh Allen."
The truth is that Walker has the size, strength, and explosiveness to thrive in the NFL. Moreover, he has the versatility to line up anywhere across the defensive line. Last season, he logged 33 total tackles 7.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks in 13 games. On the other hand, he needs to work on his pass-rush technique and develop a wide arsenal of moves to better take on offensive linemen in passing downs. Having said that, he does a good job against the run and could contribute from Day 1.
The Jaguars need to take their time to make a decision at No. 1.
Walker only recorded 3.5 sacks in his two first collegiate seasons but he also didn’t have many opportunities to make plays. It’s true that Hutchinson is the more polished prospect of the two but he also enters the draft with more experience. Having said that, the Jags nor any other team should take a “project” at number one. Nothing is guaranteed in the draft and players’ availability is always variable but you want to make the safest possible pick, especially with such a high selection, one that you need to use to take a difference-maker.
Also, Alabama left tackle Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu seem to be still in play at No. 1 even though the Jaguars have invested heavily in their offensive line. Also, trading down remains a possibility, so while Hutchinson seems poised to go first overall, there are a few scenarios that shouldn’t be ruled out, including Walker at No. 1.
The Jaguars have had their fair share of blunders and not many hits in the first round in the last decade. They need to buck the trend and make sure they take a building block with the top pick, whether it’s Walker, Hutchinson, or someone else.