The Georgia Bulldogs’ defensive end, Travon Walker, has been one of the hottest names amongst draft circles in recent weeks. Walker, at 6’5” 272 lbs., had an exceptional combine in early March, running a 4.51 40-yard dash, and recording an outstanding vertical, broad jump, shuttle, and 3-cone, resulting in him earning a 9.99/10 Relative Athletic Score (RAS). Plain and simple, Travon Walker dominated the combine. That insane athleticism shows on tape, although the statistical production, last season, does not back it up. Despite having a mediocre statistical season, teams are in love with the athletic potential that Walker possesses. This presents the question: Is the Travon Walker hype getting out of hand?
In recent mock drafts, we have seen Walker go as high as the first overall pick to Jacksonville. It’s almost a consensus that he goes top five, often time being projected to go second overall to Detroit. From reports around the league, NFL teams are extremely high on Walker. Travon Walker, in 2021, had 34 pressures, 5 sacks, 9 QB hits, and 20 hurries. He graded out, on PFF, at 71.4 defensive grade, 73.7 run defense grade, and a 65.8 pass-rush grade. Those stats are mediocre to slightly below mediocre. With that being said, his tape does reflect better play. He flashes the traits necessary to be a top-tier edge defender in the NFL.
At 6’5” 272 lbs., he shows elite speed and burst for his size. He is very lengthy with long arms, which he does use decently well to separate from his opposition. He has a lot of pop in his hands, that jolts back linemen. Walker shows off great bend, body control, change of direction, and balance for someone of his size. He also is a very intelligent player, being a generally good processor. Walker can, furthermore, fit in any defensive scheme. Preferably, he plays 4-3 DE; but he could be a solid 3-4 OLB, or 3-4 DE (IDL), as well. That positional versatility makes him a ton more attractive to front offices and coaching staffs.
Trait-wise he is the perfect edge prospect, which is why it is extremely difficult to rank him amongst the rest of this class. If you value production more than upside then he would be an average prospect, but if you want potential, you want upside, you want athleticism and versatility, Travon Walker is that guy.
To answer the question at hand, yes, the Travon Walker hype is getting a bit out of hand. He does not deserve to go top 5 in this draft. Travon Walker is a great prospect; I have him 12th on my big board—he is really solid. The statistical production simply does not display the high-end play that is expected from that high of a pick. Yes, I value upside and potential (and if Walker hits his potential, we are talking about a possible generational defender, here) but I would have liked to see more production on tape to feel comfortable with him. If Detroit takes him at second overall, it isn’t worth cringing over—it is a fine pick—but ideally, he should go to a team in the 8-13 range.