Until recent weeks, there was a small number of prospects thought to be in consideration for the top pick in this month’s draft. By virtue of ‘winning’ the pre-draft process, however, Georgia defensive end Travon Walker appears to have joined that group, and now has, in many people’s eyes, a strong chance of being the first to have his name called.
Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network – who initially wrote that Walker could be the top-rated prospect by Jacksonville last month – reports that they might not be alone in that evaluation. As he wrote recently, “several teams have Walker graded as the top player on their draft board”, meaning that Jacksonville making him the top selection wouldn’t come as nearly the surprise it would have been until very recently.
On that point, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora adds that multiple executives see that exact scenario playing out. One told La Canfora that they are “running [draft] scenarios based off Walker being the first pick”. Other options for the top selection include Heisman finalist Aidan Hutchinson if the team prefers a more statistically accomplished edge rusher, or Ikem Ekwonu if they try to further bolster their offensive line.
In three seasons with the Bulldogs, Walker emerged as a versatile piece along the defensive front. His junior campaign saw a jump in production, as he totalled 33 tackles and six sacks. Those relatively pedestrian numbers contrast with his size (six-foot-five, 275 pounds) and impressive testing figures to give him a higher upside, according to many, than most or all other prospects in this year’s class. La Canfora notes the potential similarities between Walker and Aldon Smith, whom Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke drafted during his time in San Francisco.
Assuming Jacksonville holds on to the No. 1 pick, Walker would represent a noteworthy – but not entirely unexpected – selection. The ripple effect it would have on the rest of the top handful of picks would also add further intrigue to a first round about which very little is still known, despite the proximity of the draft taking place.