No way Jaguars regret drafting Travon Walker first overall in 2022
Having the first overall pick in the NFL Draft comes with a lot of pressure and high expectations. After all, the team that ends up with it can choose any prospect they want but optimally want to select a franchise cornerstone. The Jacksonville Jaguars know this first hand, as they’ve held the top pick in back-to-back years. While taking Trevor Lawrence in 2021 was a no-brainer, things got a bit more challenging in 2022 as there was no surefire choice. Ultimately, they selected Travon Walker after months of evaluation and due diligence.
Although the former Georgia Bulldog hasn’t played a snap in the NFL, Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report thinks the Jaguars should regret drafting him first overall. Knox believes Jacksonville “took a huge risk” with the top selection. He points out that Walker has plenty of potential but is raw as a pass rusher.
"The Jacksonville Jaguars will never admit that they took a huge risk with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. Former Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker has a ton of physical upside, but he logged only 9.5 sacks in three seasons with the Bulldogs and couldn’t even secure a starting job until this past season. A Jaguars franchise with only one winning season in the past 14 years shouldn’t have gambled on that upside."
Knox describes Walker as a “boom-or-bust” prospect and believes that the Jaguars should have drafted offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu or defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, which is what several analysts and this writer thought they should have done. Having said that, Walker wasn’t a bad pick. In fact, it may pay off for the Jaguars in the long run.
The Jaguars knew what they are getting in Travon Walker
For starters, there’s no way the Jags regret drafting Travon Walker after just a couple months. Maybe they will in three or four years if he doesn’t become a difference-maker but they seem to be pleased with his progress so far. Defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell called him a unicorn and teammate and fellow pass rusher Josh Allen recently praised him.
If Walker wasn’t working hard in his transition to edge defender or was photographed partying, that would be a cause for concern, but that’s not the case. He will be compared with Aidan Hutchinson throughout his career and if the latter has success early on, the Jaguars will be second-guessed for their decision to pass on him. However, the team’s brass is well aware that Walker is a project and it will take him a bit of time to settle into one position after lining up at several spots on the Bulldogs’ defense.
Jacksonville knew that Hutchinson was the more polished prospect but chose Walker’s upside. In a draft where there was no consensus top prospect, the Jaguars made a bold choice, and while there’s a realistic chance it will come back to haunt them, it also has the potential to pay dividends. One thing to take into account is that general manager Trent Baalke has an eye for defensive linemen, and that should be a reason to believe the Jag made the right decision at No. 1.
The Jaguars have been in need of playmakers on defense, and believe Travon Walker can become one. It’s too early to tell if he will but it’s equally premature to say the regret selecting him.