No. 1 pick Travon Walker enjoying adjusting to outside linebacker with Jaguars
Much of Travon Walker’s potential in the NFL — and what led to his No. 1 overall selection — is about projection.
Such projection begins with fit. Walker filled a number of roles with Georgia, where the staff used him as a defensive playmaker. He entered the pre-draft process as a defensive end with potential to overwhelm some pass protectors, but with a need to improve at finishing the rush by getting to the quarterback.
In his first days in Jacksonville, he’s manning a slightly different position — outside linebacker — and he’s enjoying the privilege of solely learning that role.
“Just strictly working on outside linebacker things in practice I feel like I’m truly getting more comfortable with the position,” Walker said, via the team’s official site. “There’s always room for improvement. Coming from Georgia, there was a lot of techniques we went over but also coming here [there are a lot].
“At Georgia we ran a lot of techniques, but once I got here, [I had to] break down a lot of those techniques that I learned at Georgia, and focus on that one thing.”
Pass rushing will still be an important part of Walker’s future, but so will pass coverage. That means dropping back to shadow pass-catchers with the goal of eliminating throwing windows for opposing quarterbacks, and with more reps available, Walker expects to improve.
“It felt good,” Walker said. “I did it at Georgia, so I’m kind of used to it. But now, I’m working on it a lot more getting into seven-on-seven, so I’ll get a lot more comfortable with dropping instead of just dropping every now and then.”
Outside linebacker is the sole focus for Walker as of now, following the plan set forth by coach Doug Pederson and general manager Trent Baalke. The goal is to get him very comfortable with what will be his standard position, and eventually, the Jaguars might be able to use his premier talent as a weapon.
“So far, I’m at outside linebacker with (linebackers) coach (Bill) Shuey, but who knows what the future holds?” Walker said. “The more comfortable I get with the defense, you never know.”
Before dreaming up scenarios for Walker to wreak havoc, the Jaguars are first ensuring he’ll find a productive fit in their defense. With the expectations of a top selection already building, Walker has a group of leaders in Pederson and Baalke helping him manage the pressure while keeping him focused on his main goal: becoming a prepared and physically capable piece of Jacksonville’s defense ready to make a difference.
“It’s my job too to protect him a little bit from some of the outside influences that could affect him and then just allow him to focus on his job,” Pederson said. “But I think Travon is a mature individual. He’s young, but he’ll be well-coached up and that’s our job to do that.”
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