JACKSONVILLE, Fla. ( Associated Press) — No. 1 overall draft pick Travan Walker signed a four-year, $37.4 million rookie contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday, a deal that includes a $24.4 million signing bonus.
Walker’s contract is fully guaranteed and includes a team option for a fifth year, both standard for NFL first-round picks. He signed it the day before Jaguar started the rookie minicamp.
Fellow first-rounder Devin Lloyd, the 27th overall pick, also signed his rookie deal. He receives a four-year contract worth $12.9 million and a signing bonus of $6.6 million.
Jacksonville signed five of their seven draft picks, including Snoop Connor (fifth round), running cornerback Gregory Jr. (seventh) and cornerback Monterick Brown (seventh).
Center Luke Fortner and linebacker Chad Muma, both third-round substitutes, remained unsigned.
Walker and Lloyd are among a dozen first-rounders in the 2022 draft under contract, including four from the first six selections. Walker will calculate $6.8 million against the team’s salary cap this fall.
The Georgia pass rusher lifted up the draft board after an impressive combination and landed in Jacksonville to play opposite 2018 Pro Bowl alternate Josh Allen.
The Jaguars picked the 6-foot-5, 272-pound Georgia native over Michigan star Aidan Hutchinson, who set a school record in 2021 with 14 sacks and finished second in Heisman Trophy voting. The team later added Lloyd and Muma in hopes of improving a defense that finished 20th in the league in yards allowed in 2021 and nearly 27 points a game left.
However, picking Walker wasn’t nearly the slam dunk that had been grooming quarterback Trevor Lawrence a year earlier at No. Critics argued that Hutchinson was a more polished product and pointed to Walker’s limited college numbers. He had nine-and-a-half sacks in three years at Athens, including six during last season’s national championship run.
But Jaguars general manager Trent Balke and coach Doug Pedersen see a more versatile player in Walker, who, on the defensive end, logged defensive tackles and snaps in Georgia’s Wanted Defense last fall. Their highlights include more than sacks; He stops running, tackles fast getters in the open field and passes tips that lead to interception.
He spent his time with the Bulldogs as a backup for two years and began to blossom as a junior. He started all 15 games in 2021, making 37 tackles, including 7½ for defeats, and two pass breakups.
The Jaguars plan to take it slow with Walker, allowing him to learn the position of the outside linebacker before shuffling other positions along the defensive front.