Walker gained momentum throughout the pre-draft process as a member of the class’s deep edge rusher pool. A month before the draft, he was nominated as a candidate for the Jaguars to be selected first overall. Even then, many still believed the team would switch to the most well-known merchandise in Aidan Hutchinson or seek to strengthen his offensive line by choosing either Evan Neal or Ikem Ekwonu.
A day before the first round, Jacksonville signed a left tackle Cam Robinson
to an extension, a decision that took those last two perspectives out of consideration. By this point, Walker had emerged as the favorite for the first pick, having been identified as an attractive mix of height and athleticism for general manager Trent Baalke. While there was a report disagreement between him and owner Shad Khan over the Walker-Hutchinson debate, Baalke ultimately picked up their preferred option.
During three seasons at Georgia, Walker showed his potential as a disruptive force against the pass and the run. His final season was his most productive, as he totaled 33 tackles, including 7.5 for a loss, as well as six sacks. The contrast between those numbers and those of more accomplished pass runners like Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux were weighed against Walker’s perceived ceiling and the limitations placed on him in the Bulldogs’ highly skilled defense.
As the first pick, Walker will earn $37.4 million fully guaranteed over four years. The deal also includes a signing bonus of $24.4 million. In Jacksonville, he will look to team up with the first round of 2019 Josh Allen as focal points of a revamped defensive unit.