OLB Travon Walker dubbed Jaguars most promising building block ahead of 2023 season

The Jacksonville Jaguars expect Travon Walker to show he's the difference-maker they believed they drafted first overall in 2022.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan, head coach Doug Pederson, first-round draft pick Travon Walker and general
Jaguars owner Shad Khan, head coach Doug Pederson, first-round draft pick Travon Walker and general / Corey Perrine/ / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Travon Walker first overall in the 2022 NFL Draft because they thought he had bigger upside than defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who landed with the Detroit Lions at No. 2. While the Jags are still waiting for the Georgia native to unleash his potential, they believe he's set to make a huge leap in Year 2 and this makes him their most promising building block in the eyes of Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report.

Ballentine took a look at every team's most promising building block and chose Walker for Jacksonville, stressing the fact that the Jaguars were aware he was going to need time to develop.

"Travon Walker finished with just 3.5 sacks and 21 pressures in his rookie season. But Walker's selection was always more about potential than immediate production. He's a powerful athlete who was mostly used as a traditional defensive lineman in Georgia's system but was asked to be a stand-up rusher in Jacksonville."

Ballentine says the Detroit Lions are surely glad Hutchinson fell to them, noting that he's so far had a more productive season than Walker. On the other hand, he thinks that the Jaguars will have a foundational player on defense if he can make the leap in Year 2.

The Jaguars tried to shop the top pick last year but they couldn't find any suitors. Stuck with the selection, Walker, Hutchinson, Evan Neal, and Ikem Ekwonu became their top targets. They ultimately went with Walker, who played 15 games and appeared in 776 defensive snaps last year.

The Jaguars are expecting big things from Travon Walker in 2023

Make no mistake, Walker had a solid rookie campaign. Sure, you ideally want the first overall selection to have a huge impact right away but the truth is that it usually takes edge defenders a couple of years to hit their stride. The fact that the former Georgia Bulldog had hardly ever rushed the quarterback from a two-point stance and had to make the transition to outside linebacker full-time also played a role in having a quiet rookie campaign.

Heading into Year 2, Walker feels more comfortable in his new position, saying that he feels the game has slowed down. However, he was also cross-training with the defensive line in OTAs. This makes sense when you take into account that he's at his best when he plays in a three-point stance.

Even though Walker won't probably switch positions in 2023, the Jaguars are smart for putting him in a position to do what does best. Last season, he had one of his best games when the Jags allowed him to play with his hand on the ground.

Another reason to think Walker can make a huge leap next season is that can fully focus on honing his skills. Last year, he spent most of the offseason meeting with teams and performing tests during the pre-draft process. Not having to deal with extracurricular activities should help him work on the small details that can slowed him down in 2022.

Looking back, the Jacksonville Jaguars would have probably wanted Walker to have a better rookie campaign. But they also knew this was a long-term investment. Based on everything Walker is doing in preparation for the 2023 season, it looks like the Jags will soon start to see big returns.

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