Jacksonville Jaguars NFL Draft Picks & Grades 2022: Jags Go All-In on Linebackers and Pass Rushers

Entering with the number 1 overall pick for the second straight year, the Jags could’ve gone a couple different directions with this draft. We knew they weren’t going to take a quarterback, but there was some speculation that they might take one of the marquee offensive tackles in the months preceding the drafts. As the months turned to days, however, it became clear that this pick was going to be a defensive end — either Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson or Georgia’s Trayvon Walker. The Jags ended up going with Walker in what ended up being a mildly surprising move, and then proceeded to double down on defense by drafting LB’s Devin Lloyd and Chad Muma. Outside of drafting Kentucky Center Luke Fortner, the Jags opted to keep the offensive line as is, a move that I find interesting given they are still on Lawrence’s rookie contract.

Jacksonville Jaguars Draft Picks 2022

Round 1 No. 1 DE Travon Walker
Round 1 No. 20 LB Devin Lloyd
Round 3 No. 65 OT Luke Fortner
Round 3 No. 70 LB Chad Muma
Round 5 No. 154 RB Snoop Conner
Round 6 No. 197 CB Gregory Junior
Round 7 No. 222 CB Montaric Brown

Overall Draft Grade: B-

Analysis: After focusing on offense last year by drafting Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, and Walker Little with 3 of their first 4 picks, the Jags went all in on defense this year. More specifically, they went all in on linebackers and pass rushers. In a division with 3 immobile quarterbacks — Ryan Tannehill, Matt Ryan, and Davis Mills — the Jags will be able to leverage this unit to dial up pressure when they need to get to the quarterback and drop guys in coverage when they don’t. They now have the personnel to compete with a team like Tennessee on defense and straight-up punish teams with bad offensive tackles. What they didn’t do in this draft, however, was address their problems on the offensive line. Though they did sign Brandon Scherff in free agency, the Jags are still vulnerable on the right side of this line. Any team with good edge rushers is going to be able to exploit this, and Trevor Lawrence will once again bear the brunt of some hard hits.

Jacksonville Jaguars Draft Grades 2022

Round: 1 Pick: 1 / Travon Walker, DE, Georgia

Originally I thought taking Walker over Hutchinson was probably a reach, though Walker offers a level of versatility beyond being a pass rusher that Hutchinson doesn’t. In college, Walker did everything from rushing off the edge to clogging lanes as a tackle to dropping back in coverage as a linebacker. His combine performance, which saw the 272 pounder throw down a 4.51 40 time, cemented him as a top 5 pick. He adds to this athleticism with great hands and a natural sense of how to create leverage. His long arms make it harder for blockers to latch onto him and he has good closing speed. Ultimately, though, this pick will be judged in relation to how Hutchinson performs for the Lions. Using this criteria, it’s hard to say that Walker was the move as Hutchinson brings many of the same athletic traits to the game with a better knack for getting to the quarterback. To differentiate, Walker will have to showcase his playmaking ability in the open field as both a cover guy and run stopper.

Grade: C+

Round: 1 Pick :20 / Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

The Jags’ Defensive Coordinator, Mike Caldwell, showed his roots as a linebackers coach in this draft by taking arguably the two best coverage linebackers in this year’s class. At 6’3” with great ball skills, Lloyd will be able to make an impact immediately on the outside. Lloyd’s physicality as an open field tackler will carry over well to the next level and his ability to rush the passer will be a great complement to Travon Walker and Josh Allen. If he can get better at creating leverage in these pass rush scenarios, I love Lloyd to be a perennial starter for this organization. His anticipation capabilities alone made him an interception threat on nearly every play in college. I do wonder why the Jags didn’t consider taking an OT tackle with this pick given how vulnerable the right side of their offensive line is right now, but it’s hard to argue with the versatility a guy like Lloyd brings to this defense

Grade: A-

Round: 3 Pick: 65 / Luke Fortner, C, Kentucky

Though listed as a center, Fortner would be able to play guard in the NFL if OC Press Taylor decided to stick with Tyler Shatley at center in the short term. That said, Fortner is expected to make the start at center and will be a good addition here. For starters, he’s a great pre-snap guy with solid leadership qualities. He does a good job of playing within himself and making sure his first step is to the right place. He doesn’t move up to the second level as well as guys like Cam Jurgens and Tyler Linderbaum in this class, but does have decent lateral movement. The Jags may still be one tackle away from giving Trevor Lawrence the security blanket he needs, but Fortner is a step in the right direction.

Grade: B

Round: 3 Pick: 70 / Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming

With their second pick in the third round, the Jags secured the second of the two coverage linebackers I mentioned earlier. What Muma brings to the table is proficiency in an area of the game that’s hard to teach. Hailing from a football lineage, Muma has great open-field instincts and a nose for finding the ball. He rarely takes bad angles and is a textbook tackler in space. When he hits, he does a great job of making guys feel his presence without getting penalized. His close out speed makes him a dangerous pass rusher if he gets a good first step, which will be especially threatening in a division without mobile quarterbacks. To add to it all, he had consistent success in coverage where he posted 2 pick-sixes this past season. I will be interested to see where Muma fits into this lineup with Devin Lloyd, Foyesade Oluokun, and Josh Allen all slated as starters, but I have no doubt his presence makes this team better.

Grade: B

Round: 5 Pick: 154 / Snoop Conner, RB, Mississippi

Conner’s thick frame and physical nature will make his transition to the NFL easier than most. In college, he did a good job of following his blockers in the red zone and making decisive cuts in the open field. I do question taking a running back at this point when there isn’t much separating guys like Conner from backs like Kyren Williams, but this is a position they now have good depth at. Given they drafted a running back in the second round last year, I would have rather seen the Jags go for a guard here. That said, Conner’s versatility as both a rusher and a blocker will open some doors for this team out of the backfield.

Grade: C

Round: 6 Pick: 197 / Gregory Junior, CB, Ouachita Baptist University

Coming out of the FCS, Junior is certainly a developmental prospect though he does possess some exciting traits. He’s got great on-field closing speed and length at the position. He will be able to play either corner or safety if need be, and can even offer some utility on special teams. He doesn’t have the best instincts, however, and has a tendency to bite early on routes. Junior will also have to cope with the talent difference between the NFL and the FCS/Division II.

Grade: B-

Round: 7 Pick: 222 / Montaric Brown, CB, Arkansas

Closing out this class for the Jags is another corner with developmental traits in Montaric Brown. After being listed as all SEC first team in 2021, Brown’s stock dropped a bit after the combine where he failed to answer questions about his speed (running just a 4.55 40). He has good vision and ball skills though, and an undeniable track record of playmaking. In his senior season at Arkansas, he led the team with 5 interceptions. Knowing how weak this secondary is outside of Shaquill Griffin, it’s not crazy to think that Brown makes the roster and sees some action.

Grade: A-

As a central Ohio native and lifelong Cleveland sports fan, Patrick Monnin has lived the emotional rollercoaster every sports fan knows all too well. Whether it be the Browns or the Buckeyes, he loves watching football and going on nice long runs in the afternoon. In the local Chicago area, where he now lives, he can often be found making the case for LeBron James as the greatest basketball player ever.

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