Jaguars OLB Travon Walker among players with untapped potential ahead of 2023 season

Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Travon Walker (44) pressures Las Vegas Raiders offensive tackle Kolton Miller.
Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Travon Walker (44) pressures Las Vegas Raiders offensive tackle Kolton Miller. / Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Unio / USA

The Jacksonville Jaguars had a wide array of choices with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft but opted for Travon Walker despite the fact that he was somewhat of a raw prospect coming out of college. Walker displayed flashes of dominance as a rookie but has his work cut out ahead of the 2023 season. This led Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report to dub him a player with untapped potential.

Ballentine made a list of players with talent they have yet untapped and believes that it might take a while for Walker to put it all together but should take steps in the right direction in 2023.

"The Jacksonville Jaguars' decision to take Travon Walker with the first overall selection was never a one-year decision. It might take the length of Walker's rookie contract before we see what his ceiling is.

The Jags shocked the NFL draft community when they took Walker over the most productive Hutchinson and more heavily-hyped Kayvon Thibodeaux. Walker's athletic testing gave him the second-highest relative athletic score of any defensive end prospect since 1987. At 6'5", 272 pounds, he has a rare blend of size and speed that stands out even among his athletically gifted peers. "

Walker played different positions at Georgia but hardly ever rushed the quarterback from a standup position, which is why the Jaguars' brass knew he was going to need a bit of time to make the transition to outside linebacker full-time. The Georgia native got off to a hot start, registering an interception and a sack in the opener. While he didn't put up huge numbers as a rookie, it wasn't for a lack of effort. He didn't always finish plays but always displayed a high motor.

With one year of experience under his belt, Walker should be a more effective pass rushers. It wouldn't be shocking if he double his sack totals and even get close (or reaches) the 10-sack mark.

Jaguars OLB Travon Walker is poised for a big leap in Year 2

Walker's rookie numbers don't look particularly great when compared to those of fellow pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson, who tallied 9.5 sacks and three interceptions in 2022. But again, the Jaguars are taking the long-term approach and it's important to note that edge defenders begin to hit their stride in Year 2.

For reference, Calais Campbell had zero sacks as a rookie and you know how dominant of a player he turned out to be. J.J. Watt only had 5.5 sacks as a rookie but he's on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Nobody is comparing Walker to either Campbell or Watt but it goes on to show that an edge rusher's readiness is always variable. Heck, only five players logged 10 sacks or more in their first NFL season since 2015 (Micah Parsons, Josh Allen, Maxx Crosby, Bradley Chubb, and Joey Bosa).

So why should the Jaguars' brass be optimistic about Walker in Year 2? There are a few reasons. First, he's already got a taste of the NFL and knows what he needs to work on ahead of the 2023 season. Similarly, he can focus on refining his skills. as he doesn't have to deal with pre-draft interviews and meetings like he did last offseason.

Last but not least, the coaching staff has a better grasp of what Walker does best. This should allow them to maximize his skill set and put him in a position to succeed. For example, Walker played started to play with his hand, where he's at his best, in the ground as the season progressed, so the Jaguars will probably have him line up in a three-point stance more often in 2023.

There's no doubt the Jacksonville Jaguars need better production from Walker in his sophomore campaign. The good news is that signs point toward him making a huge leap in Year 2.

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