The Jacksonville Jaguars used five of their seven picks in the 2022 NFL Draft on defensive players. Leading their class are Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker and Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd. Both of them were taken in the first round and they will probably be Day 1 starters. However, neither of them has garnered consideration for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Different sites and publications have started to come up with their Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year (DROY) candidates but you won’t see any Jaguars being mentioned. It’s understandable on offense, as their highest draft pick on that side of the ball was Kentucky center Luke Fortner and centers don’t really get many votes for the award. The other pick on offense was Ole Miss running back Snoop Conner, who could get plenty of snaps in 2022 but won’t have a feature role.
On the other hand, you would think that Walker or Lloyd would be in the discussion for the DROY due to their first-round status but that hasn’t been the case. Pro Football Focus and CBS Sports recently published their list of candidates for the honor and you will see names such as Kayvon Thibodeaux (New York Giants) or Aidan Hutchinson (Detroit Lions).
Will it matter if no Jaguars defender earns any accolades?
Of course, it would be great to see Travon Walker of Devin Lloyd earn DROY honors but it will be tough. Walker was asked to play different positions in college and it could take him a while to get acclimated to just one in the pros. But even if he does make an impact early on, he might not get the spotlight unless he creates big plays (sacks, forced fumbles).
Keep in mind that the Jaguars have gotten mixed reviews for taking Walker. Some analysts really like the pick, others are simply not high on him, and things won’t get any clearer until he takes the football field. On the other hand, Lloyd could have a stronger case for DPOY. He will be asked by defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell to blitz, drop in coverage, and will be a factor against the run.
In the end, it doesn’t matter whether Walker or Lloyd earns the DPOY award. Individual accolades are worth recognizing but that isn’t likely the Jaguars’ focus ahead of the 2022 season. Instead, improving a defense that ranked 28th in points allowed last season is a bigger priority. Walker and Lloyd can make it happen.