JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars opened the NFL draft Thursday night by selecting Georgia edge rusher Travon Walker with the first pick, then traded back into the first round for linebacker Devin Lloyd. The News4JAX sports staff offers instant reaction and grades the draft picks so far.
1. Travon Walker, Edge, Georgia
Justin Barney: C
This draft was missing a blockbuster player and the Jaguars had the misfortune of holding the top pick in such a blasé year at the top. I think the depth of this draft is actually good. To me, there’s not much difference between the No. 1 pick and the No. 13 pick. Georgia’s defense was absolutely loaded last year and it’s tough to get a read on just how good Walker is because we only saw flashes of that potential last year. He has the tools to be special, no question about that. But I’m just not blown away by Walker at No. 1. He would have been my third choice of edge rushers. I would have preferred Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux over Walker.
Cole Pepper: B+
I think Walker will help the Jaguars defense right away, but I suspect his impact on the pass rush increases as the years go on. The Jaguars have had a few physical freaks on the defense in their past, but it’s been a rarity. Myles Jack had freakish traits. So did Jalen Ramsey. Guys like Calais Campbell and John Henderson had freakish size. Walker might be the most physically talented defensive linemen the Jaguars have ever had on the roster, but he’ll have to develop his pass rush arsenal against NFL linemen. That is likely to take some time. It’s a B for now with a chance to be a strong A if he develops as the Jaguars’ brass expects.
Jamal St. Cyr: C+
This was not a good year to have the No. 1 overall pick. Drafting Walker is a bit of a projection pick. Walker does not have the sheer numbers of a normal top pick but he does have the physical tools. Walker should come in from day 1 and help to improve the run defense. The big question is how long will it take for him to be able to make a serious impact in the passing game? If he can log six sacks or more this year I will upgrade the pick to an A because that would show that the arrow with this guy is truly pointed upwards.
27. Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
Justin Barney: B+
I like this pick much more than I like the selection of Walker and the Jaguars didn’t have to give up much for it. Linebacker was a major need for Jacksonville after it jettisoned Myles Jack and Lloyd was projected by many to go higher than this. The flip side is that it got aggressive for a position that could have been addressed a bit later in the draft. I would have preferred a pick like a Tyler Linderbaum (two spots earlier) to shore up the offensive line. I do like the player. Lloyd is a defensive monster, capable of getting to the quarterback and forcing turnovers. Dare I say he’ll have a better season than Walker?
Cole Pepper: A
For the Jaguars to have traded back into the first round pick up a talent that at one point was considered among the top 15 players in the draft is a major win. Lloyd was one of the most productive linebackers in the country at Utah. He made plays everywhere. The knock on him is that he is a little older (23). He had 22 tackles for loss, second most in the country, two interception returns for touchdowns and was a tackling machine. He will fit in perfectly next to Foye Oluokun in the Jaguars inside linebacking corps. Could the Jaguars have waited for him at No. 33? Probably not. But they did exactly what you are supposed to do when you see a top talent falling, use your draft capital to go get him.