Bearing the burden of being a rebuilding franchise’s first-overall selection in the draft is a taxing ordeal, but the Jacksonville Jaguars two top picks are looking to break the mold in 2022. After the team took quarterback Trevor Lawrence last year, they turned to the defense back in April to add stand out linebacker Travon Walker with their initial choice in this year’s selection process.
Lawrence spoke about the growing camaraderie between himself and Walker on Wednesday, telling reporters that the rookie’s approach to meeting the lofty expectations placed on him seems to come naturally to him.
“We’ve had some conversations, not necessarily about that, I think there’s just in general, life stuff,” Lawrence explained when asked if he is mentoring Walker as a fellow first-overall caliber prospect. “We’ll talk every once in a while, and I think the way he carries himself is going to serve him well. Just not a guy that has a big spotlight on him, because he doesn’t attract any attention, and I think that’s something that I respect a lot about him. I think he’s going to be just fine. We got a bunch of people around him to help him, if I did talk to him it would be, ‘You’re not doing it on your own; we’re all in this with you,’ and I think that’s the message for the whole team anyways.
“I don’t think he feels too much pressure right now. Obviously, as the year goes on, there’s going to be ups and downs, and that’s just the way the NFL is. It’s the same way during games, the ebbs and flows, you just got to stick to it, and that’s a big thing. Our message to the team is just that games aren’t always going to go your way, but you just got to find a way to finish and good teams do that. So, the same thing in a season. I think Travon is going to learn that as it goes, but the way he carries himself, he’s going to be fine. I don’t worry about him at all.”
Though Walker is certainly capable of being a cornerstone of the Jaguars’ defense in the future his rookie year learning curve will be steep. With the help of other players on the roster who have been in his position, even if they play at a different spot on the field, and the veteran leadership that Jacksonville has in place, Walker should be able to play a key role in the defense despite any factors that could mitigate his success.