CANTON, Ohio – Jacksonville Jaguars rookie Travon Walker wasted no time making an impact in his first NFL game.
Walker, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, played just two series in his team’s 27-11 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on Thursday night, but he recorded a sack and had other pressure. in what he says it was just a glimpse of what he will eventually be able to do consistently for years to come.
“It was definitely exciting, just being on an NFL roster, on an NFL team playing with other NFL players,” Walker said. “Something I will always remember [will be] my first snap.”
That’s when Walker first showed some of the reasons the Jaguars chose to carry him instead of more proven pass-rusher Aidan Hutchinson, who was second behind the Detroit Lions. He pushed past Raiders left tackle Brandon Parker and caught up with quarterback Jarrett Stidham as he threw the ball. Unfortunately, Walker put his hand around Stidham’s neck and was called for roughing up the passer.
Head coach Doug Pederson called it one of the many teachable moments Walker will experience as a rookie.
“There are synchronization problems when [rush] quarterbacks and hitting quarterbacks and when you can hit quarterbacks and all this kind of stuff, and it’s all going to come from just watching it, learning from it,” Pederson said. but he will learn from it and do better.”
He learned pretty quickly, apparently. Walker, who said he was disappointed he couldn’t catch the sack on his first play, got Stidham to take the Raiders’ next possession, this time grabbing Stidham around the waist and pulling him to the ground for a 3-yard throw. loss.
“It was definitely an exciting feeling,” Walker said. “It was my first [sack] but, like, a lot more to come.”
That’s what the Jaguars expect, and it’s one of the reasons they drafted Walker, a 6-foot-5, 272-pound former Georgia defensive lineman. Walker had just 9.5 sacks in his three seasons with the Bulldogs, but played mostly inside. The Jaguars traded him to outside linebacker. They feel he can thrive there because of his size, length, speed and power.
Walker had been impressive one-on-one in training camp, but his lack of experience as an outside pass-rusher has left him lacking in pass-rushing and counter-attacking moves. Those are things he will have to develop over the course of his first couple of seasons, but for now he will rely on his speed and power as much as he can.
It was effective against the Raiders, at least.
“I think he did some really good things,” Pederson said. “There were some good, quick first passes there. He’s very disruptive. He showed his length, athleticism, the power of him. It’s going to be fun to watch all season long.”