Jacksonville Jaguars select Georgia pass-rusher Travon Walker for first NFL pick
April 29, 2022
The Jacksonville Jaguars have selected Georgia pass-rusher Travon Walker as their first pick in the NFL draft. For several months. Team general manager Trent Baalke said new coach Doug Pederson was in agreement with the team's decision.
“This thing was never split,” said Pederson on the team's decision. “It's out (there). I just want to go on record and say it was never that way. I don't know where that came from. One of the things I loved about our process was the communication and us being on the same page."
The 6-foot-5 defensive lineman is widely regarded as an athletically gifted player. He outclassed Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson, who had 14 sacks in 2021. However, some mock drafters noted that Walker's limited college numbers were a bit problematic for his draft position.
Despite his limited college numbers Balkee and team coaches said they believed Walker could play multiple positions in the team's defense. He had a productive season for the Georgia defense, which featured a dominant pass rush.
Role to fill
Will Muschamp, the Jags' defensive coordinator, said that could see Walker play middle linebacker in the NFL. Muschamp also claimed that he would not hesitate to take him with the first pick, and the Jaguars did just that.
“He's an athletic freak," Muschamp said. "I swear to God he could line up at middle linebacker and go be fine. I would take him at No. 1 and not even blink.”
Walker, who used to be a two-sport athlete at Thomaston's Upson-Lee High School, eventually decided to focus on football. He signed with the Georgia Bulldogs and played his college ball about a hundred miles away.
The 272-pound Walker started to develop as a junior in the Georgia defense after being named to the league's freshman All-SEC team. He also had two pass breakups. He started all 15 games in 2021 and finished with 37 tackles.
During his first meeting with Walker, who was 10 years old, Muschamp said that the former high school athlete was one of the best players he had ever coached.
Possibility for franchise
The team that selected Walker said they hoped to become the first franchise to successfully hold both the first and second picks in consecutive years.
“I’m definitely prepared for it, being the No. 1 pick,” Walker said. “I have to say there’s a lot of expectations behind that, but it’s just the game of football to me.”
The team selected Trevor Lawrence with the first pick last year. He was regarded as a promising young quarterback.
In the free agency period, the team was able to sign several prominent players, including tight end Evan Engram and receiver Christian Kirk. They also brought in veteran guard Brandon Scherff to help improve the offensive line.
The team also considered using the first pick on an offensive tackle, but it focused on improving the pass rush instead. The Jags still have 12 picks in the draft. They plan on using some of them to improve Lawrence's receiving and offensive line groups.
For now, the team has a pair of pass-rushing talents in Walker and Allen, which should allow it to immediately improve a defense that ranked among the league's worst in terms of yards allowed in 2021.