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Little: "I'm 100 percent …"

Stanford offensive tackle Walker Little (72) in action against Northwestern during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

JACKSONVILLE – He expected the question.

Considering what Walker Little went through the past two years, the Jaguars' newest offensive linemen couldn't have not expected it. How's your health?

"I'm 100 percent and as strong as in shape as I've ever been," he said. 

Little, an offensive tackle from Stanford University selected by the Jaguars Friday with the No. 45 overall selection of the 2021 NFL Draft – the 13th selection of the second round – missed all but one game of the 2019 season after sustaining a Week 1 knee injury.

He then opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 and the surrounding circumstances around the Pac-12's shortened season. That means he has played one game since making the Pac 12 All-Conference first team as a sophomore.

"I'm really ready for the NFL, for this next step," he said. "The past year and a half has been a lot of training. It has been a lot of football studying. I'm trying to understand the game a lot better. I'm trying to get strong and just working on lot of technique work. 

"I've had the pleasure of working with a lot of good coaches. I'm just working really hard to be in the best shape to get here and get drafted – and to compete and play."

Little was asked if he had apprehension after not playing in nearly two years.

"No," he said. "I'm ready for it. I have no concerns about stepping in and playing again."

Little said he was fully healthy and able to play before the 2020 season.

"I was healthy; I was ready to go," he said. "I was on campus and training with the team and ready to start our fall season, then the season got canceled. Me and [Stanford Head Coach David] Shaw had a conversation and said it would be best to take the next step and leave the uncertainty that was Stanford and as the Pac 12 season and just start preparing for the NFL." 

Little (6-feet-7, 313 pounds), considered by many the nation's No. 1 recruit out of Houston (Texas) Episcopal High School as a senior, started 14 games for Stanford. He earned All-Pac 12 first-team honors as a sophomore in 2018 while starting 13 games.

"It was just tough not playing," Little said. "It's been a while and it's a game I love. It's a game I've been playing since I was a little kid. To not be able to play last year was tough. Having to watch my team play those few games they got in was tough, but I'm excited. 

"I was able to work at it and put myself in a position to get drafted. Now, I'm getting drafted by a team like this. I'm so excited for it."

Little said the Jaguars spoke to him about the possibility of playing right or left tackle.

"I can play either side and come in and compete," he said. "That's what we've talked about and that's what I'm here to do. I've been working both sides, knowing that the versatility would help me get drafted and once I'm in the league any team wants a versatile player. I'm comfortable playing either side."

Little was the fourth player selected by the Jaguars in the '21 draft, the third on offense. They selected Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall and Clemson running back Travis Etienne No. 25 overall on Thursday, selecting Georgia cornerback Tyson Campbell No. 33 overall early Friday.

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