No. 1 Jaguars most controversial player in 2022: Travon Walker, OLB
The Jaguars’ decision to draft Travon Walker with the No. 1 pick hasn’t been a popular one because instead of taking the best player available, regardless of the position, they took a massive gamble. See, Jacksonville could have taken Aidan Hutchinson or Evan Neal, two “NFL ready” prospects in the selection meeting but opted for Walker’s upside instead.
The pick made sense from the Jags’ perspective. They didn’t originally want to keep the No. 1 pick and made an effort to trade down. When nobody came calling, they chose to take a flyer on Walker, who didn’t rush the quarterback often in college but has the tools to successfully do so in the pros.
Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell says that the team will be patient with Walker and won’t ask him to contribute right away, and this is the right approach when you take into account that he will be making the transition to outside linebacker. Having said that, the organization will want a return on their investment at some point, and they will be questioned if the former Georgia Bulldog struggles as a rookie and Hutchinson goes on to thrive with the Detroit Lions.
Working in Jacksonville’s favor is that general manager Trent Baalke has an eye for defensive linemen, and it’s possible that Walker could end up becoming a better player than Hutchinson. The Jags are playing the long game when it comes to the No. 1 pick and Walker’s development but the decision to draft him will continue to be under scrutiny until he delivers results on the football field.