This year’s offseason featured a battle between Jawaan Taylor and second-year pro Walker Little for the Jacksonville Jaguars’ starting job at right tackle. Taylor was essentially defending his job while Little has been trying to earn his way into the starting lineup. Although Little has played well throughout their competition, Taylor looks to be the one to secure the job moving into the regular season.
Taylor was a second-round pick in 2019 and played well in his rookie campaign, posting a Pro Football Focus overall grade of 63.7. However, he’s been plagued by inconsistent play and an excess of penalties the last two seasons. Last year alone, he racked up 12 penalties. This has led fans to eagerly embrace the competition for his job this year.
The former Florida Gator missed some time this offseason due to injury but was still able to play a decent amount during the preseason. According to Pro Football Focus, Taylor was not penalized once and gave up zero sacks on 51 offense snaps.
Jaguars OT Walker Little has shown flashes and has made strides
Walker Little was drafted in the second round in 2021 and it seemed like he was brought in to be Cam Robinson’s replacement at left tackle. However, it did not seem that Little showed enough last year to push Robinson for his job.
Having said that, the Texas native seemingly showed enough to get an opportunity to compete for the starting right tackle job this year. The young tackle saw a lot of reps with the first team unit in training camp due to Taylor’s injury and went on to play 69 snaps this preseason, earning a PFF grade of 63.2 and only allowing one sack.
Little started three games his rookie year and appeared in a total of nine. On the 224 offensive snaps he played, he committed zero penalties and gave up two sacks. He earned an overall PFF grade of 68.5 with the opportunities he saw. While last year’s performance was not enough for him to unseat Cam Robinson, he showed that he was capable of pushing Taylor at one of last year’s weaker spots on the roster.
Why should the Jaguars go with Jawaan Taylor at right tackle?
The new regime in Jacksonville decided to cultivate competition in an area of the offensive line that was in need of improvement. The plan was for Little and Walker to split reps with the starting lineup. However, Taylor dealt with an injury during the offseason and missed some opportunities. Little took advantage of the situation and started the Hall of Fame game this preseason. Taylor then started the following two games against the Browns and Steelers.
Both players appeared to have responded well to the competition. Little ended up getting more reps in the preseason, but Taylor was unable to go for the Hall of Fame Game and held out of the final one. Neither player committed a penalty this preseason, but Little did surrender a sack during Week 2. The starting job appears to be Taylor’s since he didn’t suit up for the last game.
John Shipley of Sports Illustrated reported the Dallas Cowboys have shown interest in Little but is hard to imagine the Jaguars parting ways with him when the tackle position is as valuable as it is.
It is also difficult to imagine the Cowboys offering enough compensation to the Jaguars to be willing to let him go elsewhere. After all, if Taylor has a down year, the coaching staff won’t hesitate much to throw Little in his place.
For the time being, it looks as if the Jaguars’ plan helped both Taylor and Little improve. However, the former being held out of the preseason final seems to indicate that he has won the starting job while Little is most likely set to be the team’s swing tackle.