HomeSports2022 NFL Draft: Georgia’s Travon Walker Selected 1st Overall By the Jacksonville Jaguars

2022 NFL Draft: Georgia’s Travon Walker Selected 1st Overall By the Jacksonville Jaguars

by Suzanne Halliburton
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Travon Walker, the ferocious and fluid edge rusher from Georgia, with the 1st pick of the 2022 NFL draft.

And that selection, compared to recent years, was about as jarring as Walker’s first step toward the quarterback. He broke a string of four straight quarterbacks who landed in the top spot. This time, Jacksonville, after selecting QB Trevor Lawrence at No. 1 in 2021, opted for a player to harass opposing guys.

And by the end of the first round, four more Georgia defenders joined Walker in the NFL. That set an NFL record for most defenders from the same school to go in the opening round.

The draft stuck with defense as a theme from the get go. Detroit selected Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson at No. 2. The Houston Texans chose LSU shutdown cornerback Derek Stingley. Then the New York Jets picked Cincinnati cornerback Sauce Gardner at No. 4. Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux made it five defensive players in the row, with the defensive end going to the New York Giants. It’s the first time in 30 years there 1as this kind of defensive run at the top of the draft.

Unlike many of the draft’s biggest names who gathered in Las Vegas, Walker hosted his own party for about 70 friends and family back home in Georgia at a local Atlanta hotel. He became the fifth Bulldog in school history to earn the coveted No. 1 draft spot. The others were Frank Sinkwich (1943, Lions), Charley Trippi (1945, Cardinals), Harry Babcock (1953, 49ers) and Matthew Stafford (2009, Lions).

It puts Georgia, the defending national champion, in rarefied air. The only other schools with five overall No. 1’s are Notre Dame, Oklahoma and USC.

Why Go with Travon Walker as 1st Pick? It’s His Athleticism

Why Travon Walker? The NFL covets pass rushers and the offensive tackles who protect the quarterback from the nasty defenders. Walker started only one year for Georgia. Last season, he registered 37 tackles, six sacks and a team-high 36 quarterback pressures. Scouts really took notice of Walker when the defensive lineman ran down Alabama receiver Agiye Hall from about 26 yards back in the national championship game. Walker showed off his skills throughout the championship. He also produced a game-sealing sack.

Travon Walker, who went 1st in the 2022 NFL draft, tackles Alabama receiver Agiye Hall in the national title game. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

At the NFL Combine, which is so key to the draft, Travon Walker showed off his athleticism. He measured 6-foot-5 and 272 pounds. Yet he ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash. His time was faster than 12 receivers who ran at Indy. He also showed his hops with a 35.5 inch vertical and a long jump of 10 feet, 3 inches. The measurables are everything you want in an edge rusher in the NFL.

It’s also the first time a defensive lineman has gone No. 1 since Cleveland selected Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett in 2017. The only other ends or tackles picked at No. 1 since 2000 were South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney (2014), North Carolina State’s Mario Williams (2006) and Penn State’s Courtney Brown (2000).

Alabama receiver Jameson Williams was part of an NFL draft run on receivers. (Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

An Offensive Lineman Finally Bulled His Way Into Draft

An offensive player finally got on the board with pick six. That’s when the Carolina Panthers opted for North Carolina State offensive lineman Ikem Ekwonu. He started the run on offensive players. The New York Giants selected Alabama lineman Evan Neal at No. 7. Atlanta picked USC receiver Drake London at No. 8, with Seattle taking Mississippi State lineman Charles Cross at nine. Ohio State receivers Garrett Wilson (New York Jets) and Chris Olave (New Orleans) went 10th and 11th. Then Alabama receiver Jameson Williams, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the national title game, went to Detroit.

The Philadelphia Eagles nabbed Jordan Davis, the mammoth Georgia defensive lineman, with pick No. 13. They were the third set of teammates to go in the first round. Baltimore selected Notre Dame guard Kyle Hamilton. Then the Houston Texans stuck with the o-line theme, opting for Texas A&M guard Kenyon Green.

And finally, a quarterback heard his name. The Pittsburgh Steelers stuck with the hometown kid, selecting Kenny Pickett with the 20th pick. It’s the latest a QB has waited since 1997. Ben Roethlisberger retired at the end of last season. And the Steelers suffered a devastating loss earlier this month when reserve quarterback Dwayne Haskins died in a car accident.

Pickett wasn’t in Vegas for the draft party. Instead, the former Panther was watching from New Jersey. He was the only quarterback to go in the first round. And there were no running backs.