A little over three months after being selected No. 1 in the NFL draft, Jaguars defensive end Travon Walker finally took the field for the first time as a pro.
In his first action since winning a national title in January, the Georgia product needed all of one snap against the Raiders in Thursday night’s Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio to record his first sack as a Jag. As impressive as his first-quarter takedown of quarterback Jarrett Stidham was, however, Walker said after the game the sack served merely as an omen of what’s to come.
“I hadn’t hit an opponent in a while,” Walker said, per NBC Sports. “It was definitely an exciting feeling. It was my first one, but plenty more to come.”
Walker, who’s listed at 6’5” and 275 pounds, immediately made his presence known on the opening drive of Thursday’s preseason matchup. The former Bulldog bull-rushed Raiders left tackle Brandon Parker to force Stidham out of the pocket, allowing Walker to engulf the QB much to the delight of Jags fans everywhere.
While the play gave Walker the best intro he could’ve asked for, the promising 21-year-old was quickly met with his first “Welcome to the NFL” moment as he drew a penalty on the play for roughing the passer.
On a night where Walker experienced both the highs and lows of an NFL game for the first time in the Jags’ 27–11 loss to the Raiders, the imposing D-end showed flashes of the talent that earned him the distinction of becoming the first defensive lineman to be selected first overall since Myles Garrett in 2017.
He’ll will have a chance to gain more vital experience next Friday when the Jaguars host the Browns inside TIAA Bank Field. Like Walker, Jaguars coach Doug Pederson told reporters he expects to see more of the same in Jacksonville’s first home game of the new season and beyond.
“Man, I thought he did some really good things,” Pederson said of Walker’s HOF game performance, via NFL.com. “There was some early, good, quick pass rushes in there. He was very disruptive. Showed his length, his athleticism, his power. He’s going to be fun to watch, I think, all season.”
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