2022 NFL Draft: Marquee rookies in need of a ‘redshirt’ year, with Travon Walker and Trevor Penning leading the way

If rookies don’t produce nearly instantly in today’s game, they risk being characterized as failures or players who will never succeed in the NFL. But patience is not completely dead! Not all first-year professionals are the same. Some honestly just need a “red shirt” season.

Below are the players selected in the first or second round of the 2022 NFL Draft who most need a “redshirt” year of some kind before the team that drafted them must rely on them for key roles.

Disclaimer: The term “redshirt” doesn’t have exactly the same definition as it does in college: a player who doesn’t play for the entire season. For some of these players who I might be the case. For others, “red shirt” simply means they must have a very limited role on the field in Year 1 as they hone their skills and/or add strength in an NFL weight room.

Travon Walker, EDGE, Jaguares

Red shirt needs: Significant
Red Shirt Probability: It’s not happening

Yes, I truly believe that, in an ideal world of football players, the No. 1 overall pick would be a redshirt. Absurd, I know. But it is true. And the justification can actually be gleaned from Walker’s defense during the pre-draft process focused on Georgia’s scheme and what he wanted from his defensive linemen.

Walker wasn’t asked to fly upfield often, spending much of his college career taking two stints and reacting to what he saw instead of attacking the backfield. That was part why he wasn’t nearly as productive as most No. 1 overall picks. In Jacksonville, they’re going to want Walker to wreak havoc as a pass-rusher. Even if the Jaguars want him to occupy blockers more, the biggest impact edge running backs have in the NFL game today is, of course, when they win one-on-one battles on the perimeter of the line and pressure the Quarterback.

And the attack will be relatively “new” to Walker. He’s not surprised when he’s not very good at it right away, despite his massive physical features and intimidating size of him. There’s a greater chance of Jacksonville re-signing Urban Meyer than of Walker getting some sort of redshirt after being the controversial No. 1 overall pick. Because of that, I’m expecting a slow start for the former Georgia star.

Trevor Penning, Old Testament, Santos

Red shirt needs: Significant
Red Shirt Probability: Minimum

Excessively heavy diets and countless hours in the weight room won’t be necessary for Penning. The guy has the size and strength of a legitimate NFL offensive tackle, and I can’t stress how vital that is. He’ll be fine in those “power” situations at the point of attack on Sundays. In the movie, he is a bit clumsy. If anything, shedding some weight to slim down wouldn’t be the worst idea for the former Northern Iowa standout.

Because as many times as he’ll face a 6-foot-5, 270-pound sprinter who looks like a Greek god, Penning will also see the 6-foot-3, 250-pound sprinter turning the corner like a stock car. . Those guys give Penning trouble. And any advanced running back (most are in the NFL) will initially give Penning trouble. For evidence of this, watch his outing against Iowa State’s Will McDonald last season. It was not pleasant for Penning. But, because Penning was selected in Round 1, specifically to fill the roster crater left by Terron Armstead signing with the Dolphins, there’s essentially no chance of Penning either being left out of the gate or being slowly worked into their team. full time role.

Quay Walker, LB, Packers

Red shirt needs: Moderate
Red Shirt Probability: Minimum

Walker won’t be bad right away in Green Bay. He’s long, quick, rarely misses a tackle, and the Packers have built a pretty formidable defensive line against him. Inside linebackers in Green Bay rack up tackles like local residences stock up on Spotted Cow for their coolers.

However, Walker doesn’t take/throw screens as well as his sizable frame indicates, and more importantly, he’s not a smart, nervous coverage defender. There’s not much more love for offensive coordinators when it comes to game planning than a young, inexperienced linebacker. As the 22nd overall pick, Walker will instantly slot into the starting lineup alongside similarly sized De’Vondre Campbell, who just finished an All-Pro season. It will take time for Walker to come close to being as impactful on 3s as his new linebacking partner.

Tyler Smith, OL, Cowboys

Red shirt needs: Moderate
Red Shirt Probability: Moderate

Smith is a long, obnoxious, dancing bear in the field. And he loves giving defenders bear hugs at the line of scrimmage or second level. Bear hugs off the field, nice. Bear hugs on the field: tie retention penalties.

It is because of Smith’s tendency to open his arms that he was named in this article. He can also get a little overzealous and lose control in space when trying to spot those pesky linebackers much smaller than him. That excessive aggression could also be reined in, which doesn’t normally happen overnight in the NFL.

With do-everything blocker Connor McGovern on the roster and legend Zack Martin at right guard, there’s a legitimate chance Smith won’t see the field or start early in his Cowboys career. For his long-term development, that would be better.

Drake Jackson, EDGE, 49ers

Red shirt needs: Minimum
Red Shirt Probability: Significant

It’s a real challenge to identify Jackson from a physical perspective. After appearing a bit skinny on film at USC, then weighing in at 254 at the NFL Combine, he weighed in at 273 pounds at USC Pro Day. And he’s not even 6-3. That’s a Justin Houston style body type.

In the movie, Jackson needed to become noticeably stronger at the point of attack. Does his weight gain mean he has done that? We won’t know until he puts on his sanitary pads this summer. His burst/curve combination was one of the most tempting in the class at the lead runner spot. His arsenal of quick moves from him? Not so much. Essentially nonexistent. He must be built for him to succeed at the next level.

San Francisco has Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Kemoko Turay, Jordan Willis and cutting-edge hybrids Charles Omenihu and Samson Ebukam on the roster right now. That collection of running backs will make training camp competition compelling, and it also means Jackson will have a lot of work to do for him to make a notable contribution early in his pro career.

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