While there’s a slim chance that the Jacksonville Jaguars will take an offensive lineman with the first overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, they will most likely take an edge rusher, probably Aidan Hutchinson or Travon Walker. Some teams around the league expect that to be the outcome and are planning accordingly.
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that Hutchinson might not be the Jaguars’ pick at No. 1 and notes that Walker “may end up being the first name called“.
"And Georgia pass rusher Travon Walker, who blew up the combine with ridiculous athletic feats but who doesn’t necessarily have the game film to back it up, just may end up being the first name called. At this point, to the evaluators I spoke with this week who are preparing to make picks, neither scenario would be shocking."
Later in his article, La Canfora mentions that a top executive from a team that will be picking in the top half of the first round is “running scenarios based on Walker being the pick”. On the other hand, La Canfora cites the Jaguars’ subpar track record over the last ten years as a reason why the Jags could go with “something closer to the sure thing”, but notes that it “might also not be enough” to convince the decision-makers in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars can’t afford to squander the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Jaguars and general manager Trent Baalke are reportedly worried about being roasted if they don’t either draft Aidan Hutchinson first overall or don’t get a massive haul for the No. 1 pick. This makes sense when you take into account that Baalke is under pressure to deliver. He remained in place even though he doesn’t have a great reputation around the league and hasn’t been particularly successful at identifying talent in the draft.
Baalke knows he needs to get the pick right and if he legitimately thinks Walker is better than Hutchinson, he needs to stick to his guts and his draft board. Having said that, he might be aware there’s a lot of projection surrounding Walker. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be talks about the Jags potentially taking Hutchinson. The front office ultimately needs to go with the prospect they like the most, not the one the league thinks they should get.
It’s easy to fall to be victims of peer pressure but the Jaguars can’t worry about what others think. While Hutchinson may be the safer pick and the more polished than Walker, they should take the latter if that’s who they feel most comfortable with. It will be probably a close call but that’s the kind of moment Baalke signed up for, so it’s time for him to work his magic.