Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker has experienced a meteoric rise on big boards ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft and has become a realistic candidate to go first overall. While his upside may be too much to ignore, Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson is the safer pick and the Jacksonville Jaguars could be better off taking him at No. 1.
Nobody will deny Walker has all the tools to potentially turn into a solid NFL starter but Hutchinson also has the traits, along with the collegiate product, to be the No. 1 pick in the draft, so why isn’t the former Wolverine a lock to be the first player selected? His lack of bend and if he was a one-year wonder at Michigan are the two of the biggest knocks on him. And Kyle Brandt of NFL Media recently addressed both on Good Morning Football.
Brandt believes Jacksonville should go with the safer route, which is Hutchinson. He asks everyone to put on the Michigan game against Ohio and notes that Hutchinson was the best player on the field, “he had three sacks, he broke an eight-game losing streak”. He later says that he isn’t sure the former Wolverine will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer but knows he will be a good player. Brandt then goes on to compare Hutchinson with other prospects that faced similar scrutiny in previous drafts. On whether he’s a one’s a one year wonder:
"2017 Pro Football Focus. The biggest concern with this player is whether or not he’s a one-year wonder. That’s TJ Watt, all right, He just had 22 and a half sacks heard all the one-year wonder stuff in college, everyone was terrified. I don’t know if we take him…"
On whether Hutchinson is twitchy enough.
"You hear this one all the time here this one awesome. Twitchy, twitchy, is he twitchy? Simply not going to be as explosive or twitchy. 2016, this player is just not that twitchy or sudden as expected. That’s Joey Bosa, [an] awesome pass rusher, right, just not twitchy enough. I don’t want to take him. Let’s not take him."
Aidan Hutchinson stacks up pretty well against other draft prospects.
All things considered, Aidan Hutchinson compares favorably to a couple of pass rushers that had similar questions marks attached to them ahead of the draft but have gone on to carve out productive NFL careers. So why isn’t he the top-rated prospect on the Jaguars’ draft board? Maybe he is but it’s also possible that the Jaguars don’t want to show their hand.
Perhaps general manager Trent Baalke does like Travon Walker but is also aware Hutchinson is the more polished prospect of the two. Regardless of how Hutchinson and Walker are ranked on the Jags’ draft board, they can’t afford to miss on the top pick.
Keep in mind that Hutchinson is no slouch. The talent and the production are there. He tested well at the NFL Scouting Combine and had a productive campaign at Michigan in 2021, logging 62 total tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, 14 sacks, three passes defensed, and two forced fumbles. Sure, he comes with a few negatives but it’s hard to find a prospect that doesn’t.
Walker may very well turn out to be a solid player, even a perennial Pro Bowler but that’s something the Jaguars should let other teams find out. They are currently in a position where they can’t afford to take chances and will benefit from going with Hutchinson at No. 1.