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2022 NFL Draft: ESPN Predicts Jets Pick Travon Walker Over Kayvon Thibodeaux Fourth Overall

In this mini mock draft from ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller, New York picks Travon Walker fourth overall.
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Kayvon Thibodeaux or Travon Walker?

That's a question the Jets will be forced to answer next month as they prepare, in all likelihood, to select a pass rusher with the No. 4 pick in the 2022 NFL draft.

Thibodeaux has been linked to Gang Green throughout the offseason, a player that would excel under head coach Robert Saleh. In fact, he's been mocked to the Jets countless times by plenty of high-profile evaluators.

In a recent notebook breaking down some buzz leading up to the draft, however, ESPN's Matt Miller has New York taking Walker rather than Thibodeaux.

Here's how Miller's top 10 shakes out in this mini mock (with his analysis on both of New York's picks):

Michigan DE Aidan Hutchinson celebrates tackle
Georgia EDGE Travon Walker sacks Missouri quarterback
NC State tackle Ikem Ekwonu celebrates touchdown
USC WR Drake London catches pass

Fellow ESPN draft analyst Jordan Reid explained in this same story why he thinks Walker, the EDGE from Georgia, could be the second defensive lineman off the board next month:

It's trending in the direction of the Georgia edge rusher going before Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon) in the top 10, which would have been extremely surprising three months ago. Thibodeaux and cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (LSU) received the most hype coming into the 2021 season, but scouts I've talked to about Walker have him rising. At 6-foot-5, 272 pounds, evaluators are enamored with the possibilities of what he could become two or three years from now. As one area scout told me this week:

"A lot of teams passed over Danielle Hunter [in 2015] and the [Odafe] Oweh kid last year because of the lack of production even though they have ridiculous athleticism," he said. "It's not going to happen a third time with Walker."

Walker's combination of size, physical traits and upside could put him in the top-five picks. The common theme when talking about him with evaluators: He didn't get enough pass-rush opportunities in a Georgia scheme that forced him into tight alignments over the outside shoulder of offensive tackles. He was forced to stack-and-shed tackles more than show his acceleration around the cup of the pocket. NFL teams think he will be a star with proper coaching and more edge-rush opportunities.

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Here's how the two top-ranked prospects stack up against one another statistically from the 2021 season:

  • Thibodeaux — 10 games, 49 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 7 sacks
  • Walker — 13 games, 33 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks

This will come down to New York's internal evaluations, taking the time to make sure they're picking the prospect that fits best in their system and has the highest ceiling. Of course they'd love to add Hutchinson, but grabbing the second-best pass rusher from this class wouldn't be the worst result by any means.

From there, seeing New York grab London 10th overall comes as no surprise. Unless the Jets elect to address their secondary with a cornerback like Ahmad Gardner—although he's already off the board in this mock draft scenario—odds are the Jets will dip into this year's pool of wide receivers.

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