Jaguars get solid grades for 1st-round haul in the 2022 NFL Draft
The first day of the 2022 NFL Draft is in the books and all things considered, the Jacksonville Jaguars came out of it with a solid haul. First, they selected Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker with the first overall pick. They then got back into the first round and took Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd at No. 27. While the Walker pick sparked mixed reactions, the Jags got plenty of praise for taking Lloyd. Either way, both selections earned positive grades.
Luke Easterling of Draft Wire gave the Jaguars a B- for Walker and an A+ for Lloyd. In fact, he notes that he had a top-15 grade on the former Utah standout and believes he was a steal at that point of the draft. Pete Prisco of CBS Sports says he would have taken an offensive lineman with the top pick in the draft but still gave him a B- and Lloyd a B+.
"This is purely a projection. They need edge help, but he plays more like a down 5-technique. He’s a good player, a tough player, a physical player, but he isn’t an explosive rusher. They can pair him with Josh Allen, but I would have gone offensive lineman here."
On the other hand, Ben Lindsey of Pro Football Focus gave the Walker pick a “below average” mark, nothing that it was “a risky decision“.
"Trent Baalke gets his guy. The Jaguars are banking on Walker’s elite traits in a class without a clear-cut No. 1 talent at the top of the board. There are schematic reasons why Walker didn’t post gaudy numbers at Georgia, but there are still plenty of risks involved with taking a player at No. 1 overall who never cleared a 75.0 PFF grade or 10% pressure rate in three seasons with the Bulldogs."
The Jaguars came out of the draft with two defensive building blocks.
You would be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t like the Jaguars’ decision to trade up for Lloyd and while the opinions surrounding Walker have been mixed, there are plenty of things to like about the selection. The biggest knock on him seems to be his production or lack thereof at Georgia but other pass rushers that didn’t register jaw-dropping numbers at the college level have done just fine in the pros.
Moreover, Walker wasn’t asked to rush the passer in the Bulldog’s defense and played different roles across the defensive line instead. With more experience, he can certainly become a more well-rounded player and a productive pass rusher in the NFL. Was it risky? Sure, but in a draft where there was no consensus top pick, the Jags had to go with their gut feeling and Walker was the best of the bunch.
On the other hand, Lloyd gives them a linebacker that can do it all, stop the run, blitz, and drop in coverage. He should have no trouble becoming the Day 1 starter next to the newly-aquired Foyesade Oluokun.
Both Walker and Lloyd are solid additions to the Jaguars’ defense and it’s hard to blame the top brass for taking either one. They’ve spent the offseason fortifying their offense, so it was only fair that they invested two premium draft picks on the defensive side of the ball, and they got mostly positive grades for doing so.