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Notes: How are the top two picks in the 2022 NFL draft currently performing?

Drafted first and second overall, respectively, Travon Walker and Aidan Hutchinson have had immense pressure placed on them.

NFL: NFL Draft Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Like most years, there was plenty of debate as to who should go number one overall in the 2022 NFL draft. The Jacksonville Jaguars, after a nightmarish 2021 season under former coach Urban Meyer, had the first pick, while the Detroit Lions had pick No. 2.

By most accounts, the decision-making process for Jacksonville came down to two players: Aidan Hutchinson out of the University of Michigan, and Travon Walker from the University of Georgia. And now that we are more than halfway through their rookie seasons, ESPN’s Michael DiRocco and Eric Woodyard took some time to answer questions about how the rookies are performing in their new homes.

Everyone knows the story by now, but when the Jaguars made Walker their selection at number one, general manager Brad Holmes couldn’t turn in his draft card fast enough. Hutchinson was their guy, and like offensive tackle Penei Sewell in the 2021 draft, the Lions’ front office thought of Hutchinson as another pillar they can continue to build.

Eleven games into 2022, I think it is safe to say Hutchinson is one of those building blocks. Five and a half sacks, plus two interceptions—he has made some big plays for this defense, and in big-time moments. It will be interesting to see whether or not Hutchinson eventually becomes a consistent double-digit sack pass-rusher, but his all-around game that he has shown through more than half of a season is very encouraging.

“Look, let’s call it what it is,” Campbell said in mid-November. “The kid...it’s one of the reasons why we like him. I mean, he’s competitive now, like he wants to play within the system, do his job, but he wants to be a difference-maker.”

On the other side of the debate is Walker, who has all of the potential in the world, but having spent a lot of time on the inside at Georgia, has a lot to learn about playing on the edge in the NFL. So far, Walker has recorded two and a half sacks, a couple of pass breakups, and an interception.

When Campbell was asked what he thought of Walker during the pre-draft process, and how he has looked in-season—Campbell spoke glowingly of the former Georgia defender.

“Yeah, we really liked Travon, liked him a lot,” Campbell noted. “We were really high on him and I think he’s what we thought he would be. He’s very versatile, he plays their outside linebacker and base, and then plays their rush end. He can play both sides, he’s got length, he’s got speed, he’s got power, and he’s – every week he gets a little bit better. So, I think – I think they’ve got a good pick up over there and I think we got a good pick up, so.”

There is obviously a long way to go before we can make a definite call on whether or not the Jaguars or the Lions got their picks right, but for now, I would say both franchises are happy with the early returns. You can read the entirety of the article from Woodyard and DiRocco here.

And now, onto the rest of today’s notes:

  • On the one-year anniversary of the tragedy that took place in Oxford, Michigan—Dan Campbell dawned an Oxford hat during his media availability and touched on how the school is still in his thoughts. (Jeremy Reisman has more on this story)

  • I will leave you with one word to describe this videoSPEED.

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