Travon Walker has skyrocketed up draft boards, but here’s why the Georgia defender is such a wildcard in the 2022 NFL Draft.
At this time last year, there wasn’t a soul in the industry who would have predicted that Travon Walker would be in contention for the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. In fact, most NFL Draft analysts didn’t even view Walker as a first-round pick prior to the 2021 season.
The Georgia defender has inhuman measurables that you only see once in a generation. Strictly from a size and athletic standpoint, Walker is like even more freakish than all-time defensive end prospects like Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney.
However, there was a reason he wasn’t considered a top prospect in the NFL Draft prior to his fantastic pre-draft workouts: Walker just didn’t show up very often on tape at Georgia.
In his first two seasons combined, Walker earned just 28 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, and 3.5 sacks, according to Sports Reference. Though many hoped the freakishly athletic defender would finally take that monumental leap as a junior, Walker earned just 7.5 tackles for a loss and 6.0 sacks over 13 games in the 2021 season.
This is certainly less than ideal. But what is the reasoning behind his sheer lack of statistical production?
If you talk to his coaches, they will tell you that Walker was asked to wear many hats. He played all across the defensive line for Georgia and was part of a heavy rotation of NFL-talented players. While this shouldn’t completely excuse his lack of respectable production, it’s something to consider.
Walkers coaches rave about how good he is as a teammate and all he did for this team. However, it’s hard to get a good gauge for the player he will be at the next level, and you have to project his career based on traits alone.
Walker is the biggest wildcard in the NFL Draft
For this reason, I think that Travon Walker is the biggest wildcard in the 2022 NFL Draft. Once thought of as a boom-or-bust day-two pick, Walker has practically solidified himself as a top-five selection this year, and it’s not out of the question that he could go number one overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
This seems insanely high for a player with average tape and pedestrian college production. Watching him on a stellar Georgia defense loaded with talent, it’s hard to make a case that he was even one of their top-five defenders this past year.
Still, I get the intrigue with the upside — and there’s a lot of it. According to Relative Athletic Score, Walker is a 99.9th percentile athlete compared to NFL defensive ends. You just don’t see guys who are 6’5” and 272 pounds that have 4.51 speed. What’s perhaps even more impressive is his remarkable 6.89 3-cone drill at this size. For reference, this is better than All-Pro receivers like Ja’Marr Chase and Stefon Diggs.
At the next level, Walker will have the opportunity to play in a full-time role and he will have many more chances to tee off on opposing quarterbacks. He could prove to be worth the highest pick in the draft if all goes well. However, there’s no denying he’s a massive wildcard this year, and the team who picks him may not know exactly what they are getting.