Jaguars LB Devin Lloyd taking steps in the right direction in Year 2

Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Devin Lloyd (33) takes to the field through the tunnel before an NFL game.
Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Devin Lloyd (33) takes to the field through the tunnel before an NFL game. / Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA

All eyes are on outside linebacker Travon Walker ahead of the regular season but he's not the only player the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted last year that must make a leap in 2023. Linebacker Devin Lloyd also needs to make strides after having an uneven rookie campaign.

The good news is that Lloyd taking steps in the right direction, according to head coach Doug Pederson, who met with the local media on the first day of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and was complimentary of the 27th overall pick in 2022.

"He's done a really nice job", Pederson said. "What you're seeing with those second-year players and the confidence they have because they played last year. And again, it goes back to what we're doing schematically".

"They know the defense, they know the offense, so there's confidence in that and he's one of the guys that is taking the step in the right direction that way and he's just getting more reps. He's gonna get better and better. I can say the same for Chad and even for Foye. It was a second-year player for us, you see the confidence in these guys out there on the field and that'll carry over as we start the season", Pederson said.

Lloyd missed a good portion of training camp with a hamstring injury but he still managed to way his way into the starting lineup in Week 1. He got off to a strong start, registering two interceptions and six passes defensed, and he was even an early candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. However, he started to struggled as the season progressed and was eventually benched in favor of Chad Muma. Here's Pederson exchange with the media Monday:

Devin Lloyd might need to compete with Chad Muma in Jaguars training camp

In retrospect, missing several practices in the summer might have affected Lloyd's preparedness but he should benefit from the growing pains he went through in his rookie season. Having said that, he will probably need to compete with Muma for the starting job next to Foyesade Oluokun in 2023.

Although the Jaguars could ultimately go with whoever stands out the most, Lloyd might have a slight edge by virtue of being a former first-round pick. Then again, Muma will try to narrow the gap between the two and there's a chance he could take the battle to the wire, which is a good thing, as they'll both benefit from pushing each other.

The Jacksonville Jaguars need players such as Lloyd to step up if they want to be even better than last year. If he routinely plays the way he did early in his rookie season, the defense give the Jags a chance to win football games every Sunday, regardless of the opponent.

Next. 4 Jaguars that can bounce back in 2023 after a disappointing year. dark