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Walker intro: Smiles and collaboration

DFH Friday Walker Article

JACKSONVILLE – Travon Walker smiled.

Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson, Owner Shad Khan and General Manager Trent Baalke smiled, too – and with Walker's family sharing the smiles, Pederson put the day in perspective.

This was, as Pederson said, "Travon's moment."

This was Walker's introductory press conference at TIAA Bank Field Friday – a big moment indeed for the University of Georgia outside linebacker who the Jaguars selected No. 1 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft Thursday. It was big for the Jaguars' organization, too, with the selection being a result of what Khan called a redeveloped pre-draft process "full of collaboration and transparency."

"The results speak for themselves," Khan said. "We were all unanimous that this was absolutely the right time for our team for us – that Travon was going to be our No. 1 pick."

Walker – one of five Georgia defensive players selected in Thursday's Round 1 – smiled widest when discussing his family, particularly when he spoke of liking that he had been selected by a team located just a four-hour drive from his hometown of Thomaston, Ga.

"It really means a lot for me because my mom (Lasonia) doesn't like getting on planes and flying," he said. "She'll be able to make that drive really easy, and I know how she is: She's always wanting to be on to me and I don't mind. I'm a momma's boy."

Pederson and Baalke each spoke extensively of liking Walker both on and off the field, with Pederson – like Khan – emphasizing the "collaborative effort." Pederson, too, said the team believes the versatile Walker is "someone who can come in and help make an impact right away."

"That's why we chose him No. 1 overall," Pederson said.

Walker was one of two first-round selections by the Jaguars Thursday, with the team trading the Nos. 33, 106 and 180 selections to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd at No. 27. Lloyd's introductory press conference will be Saturday at TIAA Bank Field.

"Defensive players – it's a premium," Baalke said. "You have to be able to stop these explosive [NFL] offenses now and that's not getting any easier. When you have a chance to pick a marquee player, that all factors into it."

Walker, who had 9.5 career sacks with 15 starts at Georgia, smiled, too, when discussing the player the Jaguars selected No. 1 overall last April: Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who Walker said he knows well from their home state and from multiple recruiting visits.

"I've known him since high school, so I feel like he'll be somebody who will take me under his wing," Walker said. "When I came [to TIAA Bank Field] on my Top 30 visit [in April], he was working out and he ran up to me.

"I just feel like we already have that bond."

Another major topic Friday:

  • Walker's potential role as a rookie. Pederson and Baalke on Thursday each praised the versatility of a player who played multiple defensive-front roles at Georgia, but noted that Walker will begin his career focusing on one role: outside linebacker.

Pederson reiterated that thought Friday.

"We want to put him on spot and let him grow in one spot," Pederson said. "Obviously, there is versatility so as we grow with him and as he understands what we're doing schematically, we can move him around the defense just a little bit.

"It's just a matter of getting him here, getting him acclimated, getting him around the teammates and getting him started with the defense and getting him started in one spot – and letting him grow in that spot."

Baalke called Walker "just a really good fit for our scheme."

"Obviously, the versatility is something that we looked at," Baalke said. "But getting him in a situation where he's doing one or two things in terms of technique and letting him grow from there is the vision we have. We're confident after the work we did that he's going to grow and grow quickly in the scheme we have."

Walker said he sees himself as an NFL edge player, but said he told his Georgia coaches he would play any position – and therefore played both inside and outside throughout his three-year career.

"I never really just played one position consistently," Walker said. "I feel like I'll be able to grow as a player once I just focus on one main position. I feel like once I train for one position only, that [production] will come on its own."

Walker, as he did Thursday, on Friday discussed dealing with the expectations of being selected No. 1 overall – saying he had discussed handling expectations with multiple friends and former teammates in the NFL.

"They just tell me to be myself," he said. "They tell me to stay humble, like I've always been. They know I'm a hard worker. I'm a person who's going to give it my all. They just tell me to be who I am, who I've always been."

He added, "It's not about living up to expectations. That's something I've been doing ever since I was a little kid. I just feel once I get the opportunity, just maximize the opportunity I have and do my best at it.

"I can't worry about what anybody else has to say."

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