So far, Jacksonville Jaguars outside linebacker Travon Walker is off to a good start to his NFL career. The No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft earned an A- grade for his performance against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1 of the preseason. If that wasn’t enough, he also posted one of the highest Pro Football Focus grades among all defensive rookies.
Cincinnati Bengals safety Daxton Hill led all first-year NFL players with a 74.8 PFF grade while Houston Texans cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. finished second with a 71.3 mark, barely edging Walker, who earned a grade of 71.1. New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner and New York Giants defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux were fourth and fifth, respectively.
Walker rose up draft boards with an outstanding outing in the NFL Combine, and once the Jaguars signed left tackle Cam Robinson to a multi-year extension, he and Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson became the top candidates to go first overall in the draft.
The Georgia native finished his collegiate career with 61 total tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, 9.5 sacks, and one interception. He’s currently making the transition to outside linebacker full-time after being asked to line up and play different positions across the Bulldogs’ defensive line.
The Jaguars are pleased with Travon Walker’s development
Walker has gotten praise from both head coach Doug Pederson and defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell, who called him a force at outside linebacker earlier this year. Similarly, teammate Josh Allen believes the rookie defender can break his rookie record of 10.5 sacks.
It’s important to point out that preseason grades or success don’t always carry over into the regular season. Last year, Andre Cisco was the highest graded safety among rookies in the preseason and went on to spend most of the 2021 season on the bench. Similarly, the Minnesota Vikings just waived defensive tackle T.Y. McGill despite the fact that he recorded 3.5 sacks in the first two preseason games.
Having said that, Walker has made strides in his development and while he will most likely experience a learning curve in his rookie year, it seems like he can become a key cog in the Jaguars’ defense as the 2022 season progresses.