Jaguars OT Walker Little cannot waste chance to make an impression at OTAs

• Jaguars OT Walker Little has fared well when called upon but is still waiting for his chance.
Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Walker Little (72) runs on the field before an NFL football
Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Walker Little (72) runs on the field before an NFL football / Corey Perrine / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Jaguars have enviable depth at offensive tackle. Cam Robinson and Anton Harrison are back in the starting lineup. Moreover, the front office used a fourth-round pick on Javon Foster this past draft. While the surplus at the position gives the Jags ample flexibility, it casts doubt on Walker Little's role on the team. Despite the uncertainty, head coach Doug Pederson thinks this is a great opportunity for the fourth-year offensive tackle to make an impression.

Pederson told the local media on the first day of Organized Team Activities that Little will have a chance to compete, noting that the depth chart isn't set yet.

"He's got a great opportunity to compete and see where we're at," Pederson said. "We're blessed to have three tackles like we do. Blake Hance can play and the guys that have filled in last year for us did a great job. But in Walker's case, it's a great opportunity to really compete and challenge and push."

"That's the kind of message to the guys. You can't get comfortable if you feel like you're a starter, you can't get comfortable because there's another guy that's pushing you. Again, depth charts don't matter this time of year, as much as continuing to improve," Pederson said.

Little was seen as a potential top-10 pick before an ACL injury sidelined him for most of 2019. He then skipped the following season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and slid to the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. In Jacksonville, the former Stanford Cardinal was seen as a future building block but has mostly been relegated to a reserve role despite flashing potential.

Over the last three years, Little has made just 17 starts but has fared well in relief of Cam Robinson. Just last season, Little gave up just one sack in the four games he played while Robinson served a suspension. But as dependable as he's been, the Jaguars' brass doesn't seem to be sold on him.

Otherwise, Jacksonville would've already moved on from Cam Robinson, whose release or trade would free up $17 million in cap space. Add the fact that the Jaguars drafted Javon Foster, and Little may be on shaky ground heading into the 2024 season.

Jaguars HC Doug Pederson is right for not committing to Walker Little

You could argue that Walker Little may not have been given a fair shot and you would probably be right. However, teams will go with the best option, and maybe he's not done enough to convince the Jacksonville Jaguars that he deserves a starting job.

On the other hand, it's possible that the front office is already planning to move one from Cam Robinson and drafted Javon Foster not to push Little but rather to provide depth in case they part ways with Robinson.

Think about it, the Jaguars have wasted no time moving on from players if that means they can get cap relief. In Robinson's case, they would get a tad over $17 million. Add the fact that they have a more than capable replacement in Walker Little and it makes too much sense not to move on from the veteran left tackle.

Having said that, Little must get off to a strong start in OTAs and make a strong impression. If he doesn't, the Jaguars will be hesitant to move on from Robinson, and will probably want to keep him even if that means taking on his $22 million cap hit for 2024. After all, the team's brass will want to ensure that Trevor Lawrence's blindside is protected.

By not committing to Walker Little and expecting him to compete, the Jacksonville Jaguars keep their options open for 2024. Who knows? Maybe he shows enough to convince the top brass that he deserves to start at left tackle.

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