Jaguars decision to draft Travon Walker at No. 1 sparks mixed opinions

OLB Travon Walker, Jacksonville Jaguars at the NFL Draft Theater. Mandatory Credit: Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
OLB Travon Walker, Jacksonville Jaguars at the NFL Draft Theater. Mandatory Credit: Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Last year, Trevor Lawrence was the consensus No. 1 overall pick but there wasn’t a clear-cut prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft. You could ask three different people and would get three different opinions on who the Jacksonville Jaguars should take with the top pick. That’s why their decision to select Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker has earned them mixed opinions on social media.

One look at social media will show the decision to select the former Bulldog at No. 1 wasn’t well-received. The Black and Teal asked on social media to share their reaction and most of them were negative.

It’s understandable to feel that way. After all, the Jaguars haven’t had a good track record of identifying difference-makers in the first round. They have had a top 10 pick in all but one year since 2008 and don’t have much to show for it. Thus, it’s reasonable to be skeptical about the Walker pick.

Ok, so fans might not be particularly thrilled but what are the experts saying about the Jaguars drafting Travon Walker? Pat Leonard of the NY Daily News Sports cites multiple NFL coaches and executives that describe the former Georgia Bulldog as the best pass rusher in the selection meeting.

Chris Simms of NBC Sports believes the Jags got it right with Walker and points out that he wasn’t a pass rusher at Georgia, so his lack of sacks in 2021 (six) isn’t an accurate indicator of the player he is.

Denny Thompson of 1010 XL said that two SEC offensive line coaches told him they had trouble game-planning for #44.

On the other hand, Thomson’s colleague at 1010 XL, Ryan Green, isn’t a fan of the Jaguars using the top pick on Travon Walker.

Did the Jaguars really make a mistake with Travon Walker at No. 1?

This writer preferred Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson over Walker but that doesn’t make it a bad pick. Far from it. Keep in mind that the draft is a crapshoot and more often than not, prospects that get the “can’t miss” label struggle to make the transition to the pros. Walker is a terrific athlete who was asked to line up at different spots across the Bulldogs’ defensive line. He wasn’t asked to pressure the quarterback often in college. He has an immense upside and with more playing time and experience, he could turn into a dominant pass rusher.

Sure, Hutchinson would have been a great addition to the Jaguars’ defensive front but Walker isn’t a slouch. In fact, many analysts believe he was the best player available at No. 1. This isn’t a case of general manager Trent Baalke going rogue and taking an obscure prospect with the top selection.

Regardless of what the Jaguars did at number one, not everybody was going to like the pick. There are those that would have liked them to take an offensive lineman, so even if Hutchinson had been their choice, they wouldn’t have been pleased.

The Jaguars have a chess piece in Travon Walker and if he has the impact the top brass believes he will have, nobody will double guess his selection.

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