Walker Little has spent most of his two first NFL seasons on the sidelines but he'll be given a chance to prove he's the long-term answer at left tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars next season. Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report believes Little is up to the task, which is why he included him on a list of potential breakout players in 2023.
In a recent article, Knox takes a look at the league's next stars and included Little, noting that he showed a glimpse of what he was capable of doing once he joined the Jacksonville starting lineup late in the 2022 season.
"As Lawrence's blindside protector, Little did not disappoint. He allowed just one sack in the regular season, according to Pro Football Focus, and allowed zero against the Los Angeles Chargers' fearsome pass-rushing duo of Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack in the wild-card round. "
A second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Little has started eight games (two in the playoffs) over the last two years. In those starts, he's given up 23 total pressures and four sacks. Two of those came against the Miami Dolphins in 2021 when he got the nod in relief of Cam Robinson at the last possible minute. Since then, the former Stanford Cardinal has fared well.
With Cam Robinson set to serve a four-game suspension for violations to the league's PED policy, Little will begin the 2023 season at left tackle, his more natural spot. If he plays well in Robinson's absence, the Jaguars' brass might feel inclined to keep him in the starting lineup. Conversely, he could return to the bench and be the primary backup at either tackle spot if he falters.
Walker Little will have a chance to prove he's the Jaguars LT of the future
The Jaguars gave Cam Robinson a three-year deal worth $54 million last offseason because they believed he was a mainstay on the offensive line. However, his suspension changed things, as teams treat suspension the same ways they handle injuries: They go with the next guy available and Little is next in line.
Back in 2018, the Texas native was on his way to being a top-10 pick in the draft. However, an ACL early in the 2019 season and opting out due to the COVID-19 pandemic the following year made him slide to the second round in the 2021 draft. This is to say that Little has the talent to become Trevor Lawrence's blindside protector long term.
Something to keep an eye on is that if Little performs well, Jacksonville could feel tempted to shop Robinson around before this year's trade deadline or next offseason. The demand at the position outweighs the supply, so the Jaguars might be able to get future assets (draft picks) in exchange for Robinson. On top of that, they would be able to unload his salary for the next two seasons and free up a considerable amount of cap space.
Of course, this would be contingent on Little's being able to seize the starting job but there's nothing stopping him from doing so. In fact, don't be surprised if he does. Knox and other analysts certainly believe he's capable of making the most of his opportunities.