Most first-year NFL players tend to hit a rookie wall. They stop improving and even regress, which is expected when you take into account how challenging the transition from college to the pros can be. Jacksonville Jaguars rookies Travon Walker and Devin Lloyd aren’t exempt from the phenomena and are seemingly experiencing growing pains at the midpoint of the 2022 season.
Chris Trapasso recently graded all first-round picks in this year’s draft and gave Walker a D and Lloyd a C. Trapasso says the Jags took Walker with sights in the future and acknowledges his high effort. On the other hand, he points out that he’s currently not having much of an impact.
"Walker’s an imposing specimen who always hustles, but to win regularly around the corner in the NFL, a variety of methods to beat blockers is needed. Walker simply doesn’t have those yet. His pressure-creation rate of 8.0% is concerningly low, however. Jacksonville has made him a full-time player almost immediately, which the Georgia star wasn’t ready for this early."
In regards to Lloyd, Trapasso describes him as an “out-of-control-tackler” whose 13 missed tackles are the most among rookie linebackers. He adds that the big-play potential he displayed in college has been missing in recent weeks.
Walker has started all games this season and has posted 2.5 sacks, two pass deflections, 36 tackles, and one interception. For his part, Lloyd has started all games and registered 72 total tackles, seven passes defensed, and two interceptions.
Travon Walker and Devin Lloyd could benefit from the Jaguars’ BYE
After a hot start, the Jaguars’ defense has regressed in recent weeks. In the last five games, they’ve given up 20 points or more and while Walker and Lloyd aren’t the sole reason for the Jags’ inability to stop opposing teams, their play has left much to be desired. Not surprisingly, fellow rookie Chad Muma got more playing time than usual against the Kansas City Chiefs, a season-high 25 snaps, while Lloyd saw a reduced number of snaps.
Regarding Lloyd’s decreased snap count, Doug Pederson told the local media Monday that there are no plans to bench him but could benefit from watching from the sidelines, “maybe with calmer eyes“. Moreover, Pederson said that he wanted to bring in some of the younger players during the Bye week to work on fundamentals, “just re-teach and re-learn, show them”.
Lloyd and Walker could certainly benefit from working on their technique. As Trapasso noted, Walker needs to develop a broader pass-rush repertoire while Lloyd could use the time to work on his tackling coverage skills. Having said that, both are a work in progress and it isn’t time to push the panic button yet. The team’s brass would surely like to want better production from both but they can’t do anything but keep working with them and putting them in a position to succeed.
All things considered, the Jaguars’ Bye Week came at the right time. Veterans will have a chance to rest and the younger players will get to refine their skills.