3 players the Jaguars could have taken instead of Luke Fortner in the 2022 NFL Draft

• The Jaguars expected Luke Fortner to improve in Year 2

• Fortner has instead regressed and left a bit to be desired

• Here are 3 player the Jags could've drafted instead

Jacksonville Jaguars center Luke Fortner (79) stretches during training camp Monday, Aug. 7, 2023 at
Jacksonville Jaguars center Luke Fortner (79) stretches during training camp Monday, Aug. 7, 2023 at / Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA
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1. Nik Bonitto, edge rusher

The Jaguars drafted Travon Walker first overall last year. It took them a while to see a return on their investment but it's fair to say that they most of the flak they got when they took him over Aidan Hutchinson was unwarranted.

After all, the Jaguars didn't expect Walker to make an immediate impact. What was odd in their decision-making was that they used a premium pick on a "developmental" prospect while Hutchinson was more NFL-ready. Jacksonville knew that Walker was going to need time to make the switch to outside linebacker after mostly playing with his hand in the ground at Georgia.

With the benefit of a full season, Walker got a good grasp of his new position. In Year 2, he's shown noticeable progress, registering 9.0 sacks, 5.5 more than he posted last season. That said, the Jaguars need another rusher behind Walker and Josh Allen, who's having a monster campaign in 2023. One option could've been Nik Bonitto, whom the Denver Broncos chose at No. 64, just one pick before Fortner.

You could argue that the Jags had already taken Walker but that's a moot point when you take into account that they double-dipped at linebacker, first with Devin Lloyd and later with Chad Muma in the third round. So why not move a few spots up to select another pass rusher?

Bonitto barely got playing time as a rookie but he's made a leap in 2022, logging seven sacks and a team-high 12 tackles for a loss. In fact, his development is one of the reasons the Broncos released Frank Clark and traded Randy Gregory to the San Francisco 49ers this season.

With Bonitto in the mix, the Jaguars would've checked off a box and upgrading their pass rush rotation wouldn't have been a priority this upcoming offseason.

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