JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and Jaguars/NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks examine the Jaguars over three days of the 2022 NFL Draft …
- Breaking down Round 1. The Jaguars for a third consecutive year selected two players in the first round of the draft – University of Georgia outside linebacker Travon Walker No. 1 overall and Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd No. 27 overall. The Jaguars traded the Nos. 33, 106 and 180 selections to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to select Lloyd. The moves surprised on two levels, with many observers believing Walker a "reach" and many expecting the Jaguars to select wide receiver at No. 33 or with a trade similar to the one for Lloyd. So, why Walker/Lloyd? The Jaguars considered them the best players available at the time of their selection, with team officials extremely high on Walker's skill set and ability to disrupt. He also should eventually provide versatility in a defensive scheme that should feature multiple looks under coordinator Mike Caldwell. Ditto Lloyd: A dynamic, playmaking linebacker whose speed and versatility could help define this defense moving forward.
- Favorite pick. This is close, but give me a combination of Lloyd and Muma – who could define this Jaguars draft as much as Walker. Muma and Lloyd bring production and athleticism to the interior off-the-ball linebacker position, with Lloyd a two-time first-team All-Pac-12 selection and a first-team Associated Press All-America selection in 2021. He also was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2021. Muma was a two-time first-team All-Mountain West selection and a third-team AP All-America selection in 2021. Like Lloyd, Muma plays fast and should add significant playmaking and versatility to a defense that will emphasize multiple packages and schemes under Caldwell. You get faster and more athletic defensive by having active linebackers who play fast. Muma and Lloyd should bring that element to the Jaguars' defense.
- Overall assessment. The Jaguars went heavy defense in the '22 draft, with five of seven selections on that side of the ball – including three of the first four. While this surprised many observers, remember: The Jaguars signed veteran wide receivers Zay Jones and Christian Kirk, tight end Evan Engram and right guard Brandon Scherff in free agency. Combine that with selecting interior offensive lineman Luke Fortner in Round 3, and that's a significant offseason offensive transformation. The results of the draft indicate a similar overhaul defensively, with the team addressing linebacker in a big way to bolster a front seven that Head Coach Doug Pederson already considered a team strength. The Jaguars in the last two offseasons have overhauled the entire defense except for lineman Dawuane Smoot and edge defender Josh Allen. This draft represents an infusion of youth and versatility into that scheme. How Walker, Lloyd and Muma fit into that and help transform it will be how the '22 draft ultimately is remembered.
- Breaking down Round 1. The Travon Walker-Aidan Hutchinson debate will rage on for years with observers comparing the top contenders for the No. 1 overall pick. With the Jaguars opting for Walker, the pressure is on the Georgia product to deliver the kind of production that matches his draft status. Whether it is sack production or tackles for loss off the edge, the Jaguars need Walker to quickly adjust to playing outside linebacker while also delivering big-time production as a rookie starter. If the 6-feet-5, 272-pounder develops into the heavy-handed edge defender who creates consistent disruption (sacks, tackles for loss and penetration) against the run and pass, the pick will be considered a win by the team. Lloyd was a bit of a surprise addition after the Jaguars traded back into the bottom of the first round to grab the Utah standout. The 6-feet-3, 237-pound tackling machine is a stat stuffer with a versatile game. As a rare off-the-ball linebacker with A-plus pass rush skills and outstanding instincts in coverage, Lloyd is a game-changing weapon on the second level. He has been compared to Indianapolis Colts Pro Bowl linebacker Darius Leonard, and his energy and versatility should help him make an immediate impact with the Jaguars.
- Favorite pick. Muma rates as a steal as a Round 3 selection (70th overall). He rated as the fifth-best off-the-ball linebacker in my pre-draft rankings with a grade that suggested he could become a solid starter/key contributor during his first season. With the Jaguars, Muma should be a "green-dot" option (defensive play-caller) with playmaking skills. He is a sideline-to-sideline pursuer with outstanding instincts and diagnostic skills. He pulls the trigger quickly upon reading his keys, and his quick reaction enables him to create chaos as a disruptive defender between the tackles. In addition, Muma flashes great anticipation and awareness in coverage. He is a ball magnet with a pair of career pick-sixes on his resume. The eye-popping production and skills the Wyoming product displayed as a collegian are transferrable to the pro game and could make him a valuable addition to the defense as a rotational defender early in his career. Muma should also make a key contribution as a core special teamer until he carves out a role as a starter.
- Overall assessment. It is easy to get excited about the Jaguars' chances of climbing back to respectability after a solid draft haul. Despite the questions surrounding Walker's sack production as a collegian, the Jaguars have clearly added more size, speed and playmaking to the defense with the No. 1 overall pick teaming up with Lloyd and Muma to upgrade the unit. The Jaguars added depth and competition to the secondary with Gregory Junior and Montaric Brown on Day 3. Offensively, the selections of center Luke Fortner and running back Snoop Conner give the team a pair of key contributors to throw into the mix. Fortner in particular should vie for playing time as a potential rookie starter at center. Overall, this is a rock-solid draft class with key players who have the potential to serve as a solid foundation for the team's rebuilding efforts over the next few seasons.
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