Jaguars OLB Travon Walker among pass rushers in position for a breakout year in 2023

• Jaguars OLB Travon Walker had a somewhat quiet rookie season

• He's now poised to make a leap in Year 2

Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Travon Walker (44) stretches during an organized team activity-
Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Travon Walker (44) stretches during an organized team activity- / Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA

The Jacksonville Jaguars chose to play the long game when they drafted Travon Walker first overall last year. A gifted athlete, Walker spent his rookie season making the adjustment to the pros and is expected to make strides in Year 2. David Kenyon of Bleacher Reports believes he should have no trouble pulling it off.

Kenyon put together a list of pass rushers that are in a position to break out in 2023 and included Walker, noting that he should fare much better with one year of experience under his belt.

"Experience is critical for young players, and Walker—who logged nearly 900 snaps in his debut year, including the playoffs—has plenty of that. It's hard to imagine a defender as talented as him struggling to build on a season crammed with on-field lessons."

Kenyon goes on to say that if Walker does make a leap, the Jaguars would then have one of the most devastating bookend pass rush duos in the AFC South.

Walker played different positions at Georgia but he seldom rushed the quarterback from a standup position. Nevertheless, the Jaguars picked him over Aidan Hutchinson, who was a more polished prospect coming out of college, because they believed he had the physical traits to develop into a dominant pass rusher.

In the end, Walker ended up appearing in 15 games and registering 3.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and one interception last year. That's not probably the kind of production you want from a No. 1 overall selection but he made strides as the season progressed and should keep getting better in 2023.

Other pass rushers that pop up on the list are Drake Jackson (San Francisco 49ers), Azeez Ojulari and Kayvon Thibodeaux (New York Giants), Carl Granderson (New Orleans Saints), Odafe Oweh (Baltimore Ravens), Greg Rosseau (Buffalo Bills), and Jaelan Phillips (Miami Dolphins).

The Jaguars are expecting a leap from Travon Walker in Year 2

Aidan Hutchison had the more productive rookie campaign but there's reason to think Travon Walker will be more of a game-changer for the Jaguars in his sophomore campaign.

For starters, Walker doesn't seemingly get nearly as much attention as other top draft picks but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Without the spotlight, he can fully focus on honing his skills. The fact that he was able to devote the offseason to getting better instead of preparing for the draft should allow him to improve in Year 2.

Just recently, the Georgia native said that the game has slowed down for him, which isn't surprising at all. He wasn't just adjusting to the pros but he was also switching positions. And with more experience, he should be able to play more instinctively, which should lead to better overall production.

Also working in his favor is that the coaching staff knows how to better use him. Although he will keep rushing the passer from a two-point stance, he'll also play with his hand on the ground more often, where he's the most effective.

It's still uncertain if Walker will become the player the Jaguars envisioned when they drafted him first overall. The potential is certainly there, it's now up to him to make the most of his opportunity.

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