NFL Rumors: Jaguars' Decision 'Is Far from Made' for No. 1 Pick in 2022 NFL DraftApril 19, 2022
Nine days from the start of the 2022 NFL draft, the identity of the player who will be selected with the No. 1 overall pick is reportedly still unsettled.
In his latest mock draft for NFL.com, Peter Schrager has the Jacksonville Jaguars taking Travon Walker with the top pick but also notes people in the know say "the decision on this pick is far from made."
The two most common players given to the Jaguars in mock drafts have been Walker and Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. It seemed like Hutchinson was the favorite to go No. 1 overall for a long time, but the gap appears to have closed recently.
Schrager noted last week on NFL Network's Good Morning Football that Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke has a history of favoring players with "incredible physical traits over the top collegiate performers" as one reason Walker could be taken with the top pick.
Good Morning Football @gmfb
"Everyone's inking Aidan Hutchinson to the <a href="https://twitter.com/Jaguars?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Jaguars</a>. Around the NFL, there's talk about GM Trent Baalke, and his draft history with SF. Year after year, the 49ers took players with incredible physical traits over the top collegiate performers. That's Travon Walker." -- <a href="https://twitter.com/PSchrags?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@PSchrags</a> <a href="https://t.co/WbxFkH6W9B">pic.twitter.com/WbxFkH6W9B</a>
NFL Network's Mike Garafolo added Baalke "sees a lot of" Aldon Smith in Walker's physical traits. Baalke was general manager of the San Francisco 49ers when they selected Smith with the No. 7 pick in 2011.
Walker wasn't an elite college producer. He had 13 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks in 29 games with the Bulldogs from 2019 to 2021. The 21-year-old ranked in the 80th percentile or higher in several predraft tests, including the three-cone drill, broad jump, vertical jump, 40-yard dash and arm length, per MockDraftable.
By comparison, Hutchinson was an elite college player. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting last season after recording 16.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. The Michigan alum tested well overall, but his arm length ranks in the seventh percentile of defensive ends.
There would seem to be a lot of pressure on Baalke to get this pick right. This is the second consecutive year the team has had the No. 1 overall selection. Trevor Lawrence struggled as a rookie last season amid a chaotic environment under former head coach Urban Meyer.
The Jaguars brought on former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson as Meyer's replacement. They were aggressive in free agency in attempting to surround their second-year quarterback with better talent.
Whoever ends up being the No. 1 pick will have to play a significant role for the Jaguars in their quest to get back to respectability in the AFC. Time is running out for Baalke and the rest of the front office to settle on which player to take who will help them get there.