After spending most of the last two years on the sidelines, Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Walker Little will have a chance shine next season. A second-round pick in the 2021 draft, Little has the tools and talent to thrive at left tackle, which is why Bucky Brooks of NFL Media made sure to include him in his 2023 All-Pro Breakout Team.
Brooks put together a list of players that are ready to break out and thinks "the football world could soon come to appreciate Little's talents as a polished technician".
"The third-year pro figures to be one of the most important pieces of the Jaguars' offensive puzzle this season. Little is expected to fill in for Cam Robinson during the left tackle's forthcoming suspension, but he could also kick inside to left guard or play right tackle as part of a five-man front that is expected to keep franchise face Trevor Lawrence clean in the pocket."
At the time, the decision to draft Little seemed rather puzzling. After all, the Jags had just applied the franchise on Cam Robinson. Moreover, it was unknown (at least from an outside perspective) if Little was ready to contribute after not playing football in nearly two years.
The Texas native started the 2021 season on the bench but he eventually made three starts. He struggled in the first one but fared much better in the next two, allowing just one total pressure on 70 pass-blocking snaps. Little once again had a chance to start in 2022 when Robinson tore his meniscus near the end of the season. He ended up starting five games, two in the playoffs and the Jaguars' offensive line didn't miss a beat.
With Robinson set to serve a suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy, Little will line up at left tackle in 2023. He's previously displayed starting potential and he'll most likely get the opportunity to keep the job on a full-time basis if he performs well.
Robinson is signed throughout the 2024 season but the Jags can free up $17.75 million with $5 million in dead money if they release him next season. If Little excels in his absence, moving on from him won't be a tough decision.
Walker Little could be an X-Factor for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2023
Little will, at last, get the break he's been waiting for. He competed with Jawaan Taylor for the right tackle job last season but ended up losing. Then again, he was making the switch from left tackle and Taylor had ample experience at the position. It's fair to assume that if Little had had more time to prepare, there's a good chance he would have won.
The good news is that Little will now line up in his natural spot at left tackle. It's easy to forget it now but he was one of the top left tackles in college football in 2018. If he hadn't hurt his ACL, he might have been a top-10 pick in the 2020 draft.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have made it their priority to ensure Trevor Lawrence is in a position to succeed. Although they'll be without Robinson, they have an in-house replacement in Little, who could end up being an upgrade at left tackle.