There is a new No. 1 overall pick in town: Georgia pass-rusher Travon Walker, who was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the top pick in this year's draft after leaping boards over the last several months.
But who exactly is Walker? What will the versatile defensive lineman bring to the Jaguars' roster and defense after three impactful years at Georgia? Including a year as a key starter on the national championship squad last season, Walker has shown a lot on tape -- even if he isn't yet a finished product.
In 2020, Walker played in nine games and recorded 1.0 sack, 2.0 tackles for loss, one interception, and one forced fumble. Walker then had a career season in 2021, starting all 15 games as Georgia finished the year as National Champions. During Georgia's title run, Walker recorded 6.0 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss, two pass deflections, one fumble recovery, and a team-high 36 quarterback hurries.
To give us an idea of what Walker's production means and what kind of player the Jaguars are getting at the next level, we spoke to Georgia Bulldogs insider Brooks Austin of Dawgs Daily to get the inside scoop.
So, who is Walker and what kind of player could he be for the Jaguars? Austin breaks it down with us below.
Let's kick this off with the basic question: who exactly are the Jaguars getting in Travon Walker?
Brooks Austin: You're getting an extremely versatile defender that's only scratching the floor of his potential. He's everything you maxed out in the Madden "Create a Player" settings at the defensive end position, and he's only started for one year of college football.
The Jaguars picked Walker largely because of his upside. Just how apparent was that upside at Georgia?
Brooks Austin: He entered college north of 280 pounds and Kirby Smart had him covering kickoffs as a true freshman. Kickoffs. Watching grown college players avoid this monstrosity of a human being was a sign of things to come. It was also clear early on just how much the coaching staff believed in his abilities as a pass rusher. He was frequently seen in 2019 in Georgia's 3rd down package rushing as a three-technique or 4i in Georgia's Mint Front odd defense, oftentimes overwhelming guards athletically.
How important was Walker to Georgia's defense considering his versatility?
Brooks Austin: The versatility provided quite a bit of frightening scenarios on 3rd downs, which Georgia placed opponents in at a high rate in 2021. Though, what is vital about Walker's abilities at defensive end for this Georgia defense was his ability to withstand SEC double teams. This isn't a guy that was hanging out in a wide nine technique standing up fitting with tight ends. This is a guy that has been rooted in B-Gap in the SEC holding down double teams from guards and tackles. He's an ELITE run defender.
Do you think looking at Walker's production and drawing conclusions is a futile exercise due to Georgia's scheme?
Brooks Austin: Watch the tape. You'll find No. 44 playing a 4i technique on 1st down, a traditional 5-technique defensive end on 2nd and medium, a wide 7 rushing the edge on 3rd down if he's not at the zero and spying the quarterback, oh and he also has dropped in space and created turnovers via deflections from his 6-foot-5 frame now hanging out in the passing lanes.
The movement skills alone on this guy scream top-5 pick. In a world of defensive schematics in the NFL designed around versatility, they don't make them more versatile than Travon Walker.
Travon Walker, No. 1 pick: what does that mean to Georgia and how fondly will Walker be looked back on?
Brooks Austin: I think it was in due time. Look at the annals of the recruiting history books. It's virtually impossible to stack this many five-star prospects over such a recruiting stretch and not have a No. 1 overall pick... Unless you're Alabama. That's right, Kirby Smart has a No. 1 overall pick at Georgia before the GOAT does at Bama.
All jokes aside, Walker is the first since Matthew Stafford to be picked first overall, but the real recruiting pitch for Smart and Co. happens to be the collective of guys selected. Fifteen players drafted a modern NFL Draft record. In a day and age of college football where NIL is the talk of the town, Georgia is talking NFL on the trail.