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Why signs point to Travon Walker as the first overall pick

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Charles Robinson and Josh Norris break down Jacksonville's probable selection with the first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Video Transcript

CHARLES ROBINSON: Draft starts at one this year. And up until yesterday, it seems to me like you and I were hearing a lot of the same information about the split building in Jacksonville. I think there's certainly credence to that. I feel like, though, today I got the voice I needed that indicated to me that Travon Walker is going to be that number-one pick.

However, I expressed to you before we started rolling what bothers me about that-- and like I said, I feel like this was the voice I needed to hear to sort out Aidan Hutchinson or Travon Walker. I think I said Trevon. Travon Walker. The owner being involved in Jacksonville in any of the process--

I can tell you when I first started out and I was covering Detroit, I will never forget Joey Harrington, I think, ultimately was an ownership pick. And it took a while for me to find that out before everybody was being honest about who they wanted in that particular draft. But the morning of the draft, the Ford family patriarchs were like, Joey Harrington, that's the guy. That's who we want to pick. That's who we think is going to lead the franchise.

Shad Khan could absolutely walk in and go, no, man, I'm an Aidan Hutchinson guy. I don't care what the rest of you think. I don't care who's in what camp. Sorry, Doug. Sorry, Trent Baalke. Aidan Hutchinson is the pick, and that's where we're going to go with this. But other than that happening, I feel pretty confident that the odds are going in Walker's favor for a reason.

JOSH NORRIS: Yeah, a few things on that. There's no doubt in my mind that the team has high grades on both Travon Walker and Aidan Hutchinson. So it's not just like, well, one's a good player and one's not. Having seven voices or maybe even nine voices in the room, that's where it gets really difficult, and that's why there are three names out there.

A couple of parts of this. Will Brinson pointed this out to me. If you just Google "Trent Baalke colon I like long arms," you get an article-- and I'm not joking. You get an article from 2014 from the team's website where he gave a quote, and this was after drafting Aldon Smith where he has 36 inch arms.

All of the guys last year on the defensive line were 34 or more. I think it's an important trait. It's a trait that's hard to find. If you look at this year's measurements, you're not going to find many players in this draft that have 34-plus arms length, regardless of position. So we're talking--



CHARLES ROBINSON: Compare the two guys.

JOSH NORRIS: We are talking seventh percentile length with Aidan Hutchinson versus 95th percentile length in Travon Walker. Both are great athletes in terms of their cones and their agilities and their straight line speed and all that, but critical factors are a real thing. And for someone that has been drafting for so long in Trent Baalke, there's no doubt in my mind that this plays a huge factor in his decision. Now, Charles, can I throw this curveball at you? Could also an eight-year grudge against Jim Harbaugh--


JOSH NORRIS: --who honestly ripped two people away from the organization this offseason. It was Denard Robinson, and there was also another executive that was on the personnel side of the team. I don't know if that factors in. But a combination of all these and not possibly wanting to take his golden child at number one-- weirder things have happened in the league.


JOSH NORRIS: Let's put it that way.

CHARLES ROBINSON: So that was something that I ran by a couple of different executives, just saying, hey, this animus was real. I'm sure it continues to be real between these two individuals. I mean, I remember being-- look, I covered part of that, you know, the end of Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco. I covered Trent Baalke being the survivor there and what Jim thought about that, what he felt about that about ownership and feeling like Trent snaked him.

And I think it would be foolish of us not to think that, in this ego-driven world, that men who make decisions often fueled by their egos would not let that impact whether or not a draft pick goes one way or another. But it also helps, as you said, the traits.


CHARLES ROBINSON: I mean, he has a reason--

JOSH NORRIS: And I'd put those higher.

CHARLES ROBINSON: Yeah, I would put those higher too. But he already has a reason. See what I'm saying? He's like, hey-- and someone else said to me when I kind of advanced the, hey, Trent and Jim Harbaugh don't get along. Could the animus play in this pick? They were like, you don't even have to go that far. Just go look at Trent's picks.

Go look at his drafts. He drafts that guy. Travon Walker is the guy he drafts. He does not draft Aidan Hutchinson, who very cruelly you hear executives will be like, oh, T-Rex arms. He doesn't have super long arms. He's got to have longer arms than he does. And tackles in the NFL are going to lock onto that guy, and he's going to have problems. Or when he's swinging through the back end of the pocket, a quarterback's just going to have to take a little bunny step to avoid him reaching out and grabbing him.

You get all that stuff. So I'm like, look, if that's what Trent Baalke is leaning into, that's the player that it makes a lot of sense. It'd be different if, as you said, when you looked at how athletically gifted the two players are, if Hutchinson was just like, oh, he's just a much better athlete or he's this or that. That's not really there. And so I get it. I kind of get why this is leaning the way it was.

I just wanted to hear a voice who I trusted in the middle of this telling me, hey, this is what I think is going to happen. And now I feel like-- on Tuesday, I feel like I got that voice that is indicating to me that it's shifted for a reason and, ultimately, that's where it's going to land.

You're going to have to convince me, though, that Shad Khan is not going to walk into the room and do something like-- I mean, look, Shad Khan hired Urban Meyer. He did. He hired Urban Meyer when a lot of people were like, that ain't a good hire at the NFL level. And Shad Khan was like, but I'm thinking outside the box. I'm going my way. You tell me he's not going to do that here.