Much of Travon Walker’s potential in the NFL, and what landed him his No. 1 overall pick, has to do with projection.
Such projection begins with adjustment. Walker played a number of roles with Georgia, where the staff used him as a defensive playmaker. He entered the predraft process as a defensive end with the potential to overwhelm some pass protectors, but in need of improvement to finish the run at quarterback.
In his early days in Jacksonville, he fills a slightly different position, outside linebacker, and enjoys the privilege of only learning that role.
“Just working strictly on the outside linebacker stuff in practice, I feel like I’m really getting more comfortable with the position,” Walker said, via the team’s official website. “There is always room for improvement. Coming from Georgia, we went over a lot of techniques, but also coming here [there are a lot].
“In Georgia we apply a lot of techniques, but once I got here, [I had to] take a lot of those techniques that I learned in Georgia and focus on that.”
Running the passer will continue to be an important part of Walker’s future, but so will pass coverage. That means moving back into the shadows with the goal of eliminating shooting windows for opposing quarterbacks, and with more reps available, Walker hopes to improve.
“It felt good,” Walker said. “I did it in Georgia, so I’m kind of used to it. But right now, I’m working on it a lot more to get into seven-on-seven, so I’m going to be a lot more comfortable going down instead of going down from time to time.”
Outside linebacker is Walker’s sole focus as of now, following the plan laid out by coach Doug Pederson and general manager Trent Baalke. The goal is for him to get very comfortable with what will be his standard position and eventually the Jaguars could use his main 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 defense, you never know.”
Before imagining scenarios for Walker to wreak havoc, the Jaguars first make sure he finds a productive fit on their defense. With the prospects of a top pick already developing, Walker has a group of leaders in Pederson and Baalke to help him handle the pressure while keeping him focused on his main goal: becoming a ready and physically capable piece of the Jacksonville defense. ready to make a difference.
“It’s also my job to shield him a little bit from some of the outside influences that might affect him and then allow him to focus on his work,” Pederson said. “But I think Travon is a mature individual. He’s young, but he’s going to be well trained and that’s our job.”