It was a surprise to see the Jacksonville Jaguars retain general manager Trent Baalke as the team cleaned house following an ugly 3-14 season.
A perceived rift between Jaguars owner Shad Khan and Baalke leading up the hiring of Doug Pederson as their next head coach added another layer to this.
According to a report from Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports, this rift has continued heading into the 2022 NFL Draft. The insider notes that Khan wants to draft Michigan edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson No. 1 while Baalke seems to be “infatuated” with former Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker.
That’s not an ideal situation to be in less than 24 hours before the Jaguars are on the clock to open the NFL Draft in Las Vegas Thursday evening.
Jacksonville Jaguars must ace 2022 NFL Draft
Having the two top decision makers split over who to take shouldn’t be seen as a good thing. Given the Jags’ hierachy, it would also stands to reason that Khan will have final say. That was obvious during the search for a new head coach earlier this year.
Unlike last year, there’s no consnsus No. 1 prospect in the draft. Months before the annual event started last spring, we already knew that Jacksonville was going to take quarterback Trevor Lawrence from Clemson.
Heading into draft day, it remains somewhat of a question mark. And in reality, there has to be some sweaty Jaguars fans knowing that there could be a rift between the power that be.
In terms of college production, Hutchinson would be seen as the obvious selection for Jacksonville. The former Michigan standout has been seen as the best overall prospect in the draft for some time.
Last season with the Wolverines, he led one of the nation’s best defenses by recording 16.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. As for Walker, he played more a run-stuffing role. The 6-foot-5, 272-pound defensive end registered 7.5 tackles for loss and six sacks for the eventual national champion Bulldogs.
He caught the eye of the Jacksonville Jaguars and other teams late in the pre-draft process by putting up a stellar 4.51 40-yard dash.