This year's NFL Draft is a weak class for quarterbacks which means the first few picks are tough to predict. It does not help that there don't appear to be any "can't-miss" prospects who are obviously generational talents to even the most uninformed observer. There are plenty of good players to be found but no-brainer picks do not exist in this year's draft.
All that is why it's been difficult to nail down exactly what the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to do with their first overall selection. When the order became finalized after the season, everybody assumed they'd choose between Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux, the consensus best edge prospects in college football for all of last season. Then people began to wonder if the Jags shouldn't invest in protecting Trevor Lawrence, especially after picking edge rusher Josh Allen near the top of the draft only two years ago, so predictions began to roll in that Evan Neal or another elite tackle prospect might be the pick.
But then the Jaguars franchise-tagged LT Cam Robinson. Combined with reports that the team plans to make RT Jawaan Taylor a long-term piece, picking another tackle first overall was effectively eliminated as a possibility. Thus we find ourselves back at square 1: Hutchinson or Thibodeaux?
However! Over the last two weeks, the rumor mill has churned out suggestions that it may not be that cut-and-dry. Thibodeaux's stock has fallen due to concerns about his love of the game and things of that nature, which makes Hutchinson the front-runner and he's the betting favorite right now. But even in the lead-up to the draft, when everyone likes to blow smoke, there is occasionally fire.
Peter Schrager put out a mock draft this morning and explained he's hearing a lot of chatter that maligned Jags GM Trent Baalke really likes Travon Walker out of Georgia.
It makes sense from a football perspective. Baalke has a history of favoring elite athletes in the draft over college production; it's why he took Aldon Smith sixth overall while with the 49ers. Smith obviously didn't work out for non-football reasons but his impact was obvious when he was on the field. Walker is a difficult prospect to gauge because he played on an absolutely loaded defensive front with the Bulldogs and the scheme did not ask him to line up and rush the passer on every down. But his physical upside is clear as day.
It would be a risky pick. Walker is an unfinished product, even if he is brimming with potential. Hutchinson is as polished a pass-rusher you'll find in the draft, albeit below the level of Chase Young or the Bosa brothers. But the Jags are prone to strange decisions.
It all could be a smokescreen. But there's evidence to suggest they might get weird with the first overall pick.