The Jacksonville Jaguars had a chance to select defensive end Aidan Hutchinson with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft but opted to take Travon Walker instead. In Week 13, the Jags will see Hutchinson when they play the Detroit Lions and head coach Doug Pederson had nothing but good things to say about him.
Pederson met with the local media Wednesday and said it will be exciting to go against Hutchinson in Week 13.
“On great person”, Pederson said. “Got a chance to meet him in person, great human being and he’s a good football player. It’s gonna be exciting obviously watching him all week this week, but watching him in person and just understanding he’s got a great future watching his tape”.
Later in his exchange with the media, Pederson said Hutchinson left a positive impression on the Jaguars’ brass during his predraft visit.
“It’s tough to really get to know guys during that process; it’s so short and brief. Getting even a top 30 visit in your building and things like that, it’s still not enough time to really get to know somebody. But I’ll say this, this kid was professional. The way he acted, the way he spoke, the way he handled his business when he was here, guys like that are gonna have success in this league”, Pederson said.
Hutchinson has started every game this season and logged 20 total tackles, two passes defensed, total sacks, two interceptions and 5.5 sacks. Meanwhile, Walker has 2.5 sacks, 37 total tackles, two pass deflections, and one interception.
The Jaguars will experience Aidan Hutchinson’s impact firsthand in Week 13
There’s no doubt Hutchinson has been more productive than Walker in 2022 and currently, he looks like the better player. Having said that, the Jaguars drafted Walker knowing he was a development project. After all, he hardly ever rushed the passer from a two-point stance in college and he’s still adjusting to playing outside linebacker full-time. Michael DiRocco of ESPN says the Jags are adopting a long-term view with Walker.
"The Jaguars were careful not to make a big deal out of what they wanted from Walker this season other than to learn his new position and show progress — and of course make some plays along the way."
Eventually, the Jaguars will expect more production from Walker but this season is about him getting acclimated to playing in a standup position. On the other hand, it looks like the Lions’ decision to draft Hutchinson is paying off. His 5.5 sacks lead the team and he’s quickly become a mainstay of the defense.
The Lions have one of the best offensive lines in the league, so the Jags’ defense might have a hard time getting after quarterback Jared Goff. Jacksonville might not expect much from Walker but if he has a good game, their chances of slowing down Detroit’s high-powered offense will go up.