Travon Walker named Jaguars most questionable pick in 2022 NFL Draft
The consensus ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft pick was that it wasn’t a good year to hold the first overall pick since there was not a surefire prospect worth taking at the top. In fact, Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke said the team was “always open for business” but nobody inquired about potentially trading up. In the end, the Jags chose Georgia defensive end Travon Walker. So far, the pick has been welcomed with mixed reviews and has been even described as “questionable”.
Josh Edwards of CBS Sports recently drew up a list of every NFL team’s most questionable pick in this year’s draft and Walker made the cut. Overall, he believes that drafting him at No. 1 was a risky move and believes that he’s far from a surefire pick.
"The article is most questionable pick and not worst pick. To say with any level of certainty that Walker is going to play to the level generally expected of a No. 1 overall selection would be misguided. The idea of adding a prospect with the size and athletic profile to reach those expectations makes sense, but it certainly carries risk. Walker is a high-floor run defender who would ideally cultivate a better pass-rush plan."
Edwards’ CBS Sports colleague Chris Trapasso said before the draft that Walker was a second-round talent, mostly due to his lack of production at Georgia. Other analysts saw Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson as the better player of the two but the Jaguars still went ahead and chose Walker because they believe he has a higher ceiling and can turn into a productive edge rusher.
The Jaguars are betting on Travon Walker’s physical traits.
Walker only had 6.5 sacks in college but wasn’t asked to rush the passer often and get as many snaps as other edge rushers in this draft. Instead, he filled different roles in the Bulldog’s defense and lined up at different spots.
Trent Baalke doesn’t have a great track record of drafting building blocks in the first round but he sure has an eye for defensive linemen. Back in 2011, he chose Aldon Smith over J.J. Watt, Robert Quinn, and Ryan Kerrigan and it paid off… at least for a couple of years. He drafted Arik Armstead in 2015 and DeForest Buckner the following year. The former has been a good player and the latter is among the best defensive tackles in the league.
Taking Walker in a draft that was deemed one of the worst in recent years must have been a tough decision but if the can develop into a dominant pass rusher, the pick will be retroactively seen in a better light. Of course, there’s also a chance Walker will flop in the pros, and if he does, the Jaguars will rightfully get plenty of flak for it.