Jacksonville Jaguars must give OT Walker Little a chance to show what he’s got

Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Walker Little (72) at Jaguars Training Camp, Episcopal School of Jacksonville.Jki Jagstrainingcampday4 41
Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Walker Little (72) at Jaguars Training Camp, Episcopal School of Jacksonville.Jki Jagstrainingcampday4 41 /

As the dominoes begin to fall, it looks more and more likely that the Jacksonville Jaguars are poised to be moving on from their 2019 second-round pick Jawaan Taylor in free agency, so what does that mean for offensive tackle Walker Little, their second-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft? It means opportunity.

Should the Jags just hand the job to Little if they lose their current starter at the position? No, but he should be in the best situation to take it. Little, as noted above, holds the same draft weight as Taylor. Simply, you have to see what you have in the second rounder. After a knee injury derailed Walker’s 2019 season at Stanford, and the Covid-19 pandemic caused him to opt out of the 2020 season, questions surrounded Little and his readiness for the NFL.

Since Little was taken 45th overall, he has appeared in 26 games for the Jags (including 17 this past season), and Doug Pederson has noticed the ability Little has shown to come in and play at a high level while keeping the offense on track. Here’s what Pederson had this to say about the right tackle before their divisional matchup with the L.A. Chargers in January, via Adam Stites of USA TODAY Sports:

"“He’s the type of player that we thought he is, he’s done a good job,” Jaguars coach Doug Pederson said of Little. “This will be a really good test whether it’s [Joey] Bosa or [Khalil] Mack, these guys like to trade sides a little bit. It’s going to be good for him. It’s going to be a benchmark game for him and his progression.“I’ve got a lot of confidence in Walker and what he’s done here in the last month has been pretty special for us. He’s helped us win these last few games.”"

So, how do you continue to see to it that this young tackle progresses and continues to develop? Money is going to play a big part in this decision, but you have to bring in some competition to the group.

Walker Little may be the Jacksonville Jaguars best option moving forward

Little is still on a rookie contract for the next two seasons, and the Jacksonville Jaguars are already up close to their 2023 cap limit with the recent tagging of tight end Evan Engram, and the reinstatement of wide receiver Calvin Ridley by the NFL. Not to mention the team needs to set aside approximately $10 million for the incoming rookie class.

If Taylor does leave the Jaguars this offseason, their activity on the open market will be little. Because they will no longer have a swing tackle, they should look to add depth in the draft. Adding a swing tackle provides competition, which in turn should add to the desire for Little to continue improving. It also adds depth and an insurance policy for your quarterback. Little himself has shown over the past two seasons why this is paramount.

Adding depth through the draft also sets you up in the position to be here again in two years. While that is not always ideal, it is this exact situation that has set the Jaguars’ front office up to be successful and to focus on keeping those who are vital in their young franchise quarterback’s development around this year.

The Jags should not hand Walker Little the job, but they should give him a realistic chance to seize it. Add a body for competition and ultimately depth, and watch the wins pile up. Shad Khan is keeping that in mind as well. He’s currently working on the “Trevor Lawrence Fund” as we speak.

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