The Jaguars started the 2022 NFL Draft with a surprise that’s been mere weeks in the making.
Jacksonville chose Georgia Edgerusher Travonwalker, who ranked first overall in the Thursday night draft.
The Jaguars weren’t done in the first round, as they traded back in at the No. 27 pick, sending picks No. 33 (first pick of second round), 106 (first pick of fourth round), 180 (first pick of sixth round) to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With the 27th selection of the draft, the Jags selected Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd.
Walker recently participated in a top-pick conversation and emerged as a winning candidate. Honored to be the first player in the draft, he hit Michigan‘s edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson, Alabama‘s attack tackle Evan Neal, and North Carolina‘s attack tackle Ikem Ekwonu. I defeated it.
The expectation for Jacksonville changed as the pre-draft process progressed, with predictions of the Jaguars spending the top pick on a tackle (either Neal or Ekwonu, depending on a prognosticator’s preference) shifting toward Hutchinson following Jacksonville‘s decision to franchise tag Cam Robinson for a second straight year. Hutchinson remained as the most likely choice until early April, with rumblings regarding Jacksonville‘s preference for Walker growing louder with each week.
General manager Trent Barrke told reporters last week about the Jacksonville pick, which was ranked as consisting of Hutchinson, Ekwon, Neil and Walker.
Walker‘s choice isn’t entirely a reach. He’s stood as a consensus top-10 talent since turning in an impressive workout at the NFL Scouting Combine, and the only knock on him was his lack of experience as a true edge defender.
Georgia‘s defense was messed up by starting talent in 2021, and Walker became the first bulldog to learn where he would play his NFL football. With this pick, Jacksonville wants to take it to the next level, and playing with professional bowler Josh Allen will accelerate his growth and enable production at the elite level.
Lloyd fills another need for the Jags and further beefs up the defense.
An All-American as a senior at Utah and a Butkus Award finalist in each of his last two seasons, Lloyd‘s versatility was as much of a calling card as his production.
The advantage when a run, cover, or quarterback was in a hurry was Lloyd filling the box score. In 2021, he achieved his career’s best 110 tackles, 22 tackle losses, 8 sack, 4 intercepts, 2 touchdown intercept returns and 6 pass breakups.