The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Travon Walker first overall last year because they believe he can become a game-changer in the NFL. However, he went through an adjustment period in his rookie campaign and didn't have the impact he was expected to make. Heading into Year 2, the Jags need the former Georgia Bulldog to make a leap and Sara Walsh of NFL Media recently brought up a reason there's a chance he'll pull it off.
Walsh said during an appearance on NFL Network that he had a conversation with Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson, who pointed out that Walker won't have to deal with the flurry of activity he experienced during the draft process. And that should help him fully focus on getting ready for the 2023 NFL season.
"Travon Walker was coming off winning the National Championship in Georgia", Walsh said. "So as the college football season goes long, then he goes into the combine the pro days, the interviews the workouts, the meetings with these teams, and it's a complete and total draft frenzy, so your mind is spinning".
"He never really had an offseason, then gets taken number one overall, so there's a big target on your back. He comes to Jacksonville and everyone is looking at you as the No. 1 overall pick and he really didn't have a lot of time to calm down, decompressing. And the Jags make this run, they go into the postseason, so he's played even more football games, so he said this is the first time going back to where Travon was a year ago that he had a time to decompress", Walsh said.
Here's the clip of Walsh discussing Walker's hectic offseason last year and his potential impact in 2023.
Travon Walker is ready to make the leap for the Jacksonville Jaguars in Year 2
Another thing that affected Walker's impact in 2022 was that he was making the switch to outside linebacker full-time after playing different roles across the Bulldogs' defensive line, so not only did he have to make the transition to the pros but he also had to learn a new position. This in turn led to a quiet rookie year. However, the Georgia native will have the chance to fully focus on getting ready for the 2023 season.
Also, defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell has a better feel for what Walker can and can't do and he'll surely find better ways to maximize his skill set. On the other hand, Walker is under pressure to perform in 2023. Even if the Jaguars use an early-round pick in the draft to select a pass rusher, the second-year outside linebacker will be tasked to help fill the void left by defensive Arden Key's departure to the Tennessee Titans.
Even though Walker isn't running out of time to make an impact, he needs to start showing consistency and become a steady contributor for a Jaguars' defense that ranked 26th in sacks last year. Working in his favor is that he's not the only player impact player on the Jaguars, so he won't have to carry the defense on his shoulders.
The table is set for Travon Walker to become the difference-maker the Jacksonville Jaguars envisioned when they made him the No. 1 pick in the 2021 Draft. Now, it's up to him to seize the opportunity and showed the Jags made the right decision.