What is the Jaguars' plan with Walker Little? This is a question that's been eating at me for some time.
The 45th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, offensive tackle Walker Little, has yet to see the field this season. Little opted out of the 2020 college football season after missing all but one game in 2019 with an ACL injury. Despite not playing in nearly two years, Little came into camp for the Jaguars and performed about as well as you could ask, all things considered. The 6'7", 309-pound lineman undoubtedly looks the part.
The Jaguars like their incumbent offensive tackles, Cam Robinson on the left side, and Jawaan Taylor on the right, so I can't really blame them for sitting Little on the bench to this point in the season. They should continue to deploy Jawaan and Cam until mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. At that point, they'll have a decision to make.
Will they decide to redshirt Walker Little for his entire rookie season? If so, they'll head into 2022 without having any regular-season tape on Little since the first week of the 2019 college football season. Of course, it's never ideal to go an entire year without getting a second-round pick on the field.
But if you want to see what you have in Little down the stretch, then you have the question of which starter to sit. It's not an easy question to answer. Both Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor were second-round picks themselves. Robinson was taken in the 2017 draft, while Taylor was selected in 2019. Both players have the pedigree, talent, and pro production to start in the league. But neither is elite or even above average, for that matter. They're both just middle-of-the-road starters at this point in their respective careers.
Robinson is playing under the franchise tag in 2021 and will become a free agent following the season. The Jaguars will be forced to decide whether to tag him again (which will cost even more), sign him to a new contract, or let him walk.
Jawaan Taylor is in the third year of his rookie contract, which means the team controls his future through the 2022 campaign.
If the front office and coaching staff like what they've gotten from this duo of pass protectors, they could certainly run it back in 2022 with Robinson and Taylor in the starting lineup. If that's the case, Little wouldn't see the field again during his second season in the league. Half his rookie contract down the drain. That would be a poor use of draft capital, indeed.
It seems almost unfathomable that the Jaguars would select Little at 45 and let him ride the pine two years in a row. So, which of their current starters would they move on from if they want to get Little on the field in 2022?
They need to figure out the answer to that question in the coming weeks.
The logical solution is to let Cam Robinson walk. He's not under contract after 2021 and plays the position where Little has more experience and comfort. That would allow Little to take over in the starting lineup on the left side while Jawaan Taylor plays out his rookie deal on the right. But I wouldn't do so without seeing some regular-season reps from Walker Little.
I can't help but think the Jaguars don't know what they want to do with their offensive tackle conundrum. Neither starter is playing great, but neither is terrible either. They certainly don't want to run the risk of Walker Little getting in the game before he's ready, which could potentially lead to Trevor Lawrence struggling or even getting hurt. But you also want to figure out what Walker Little is before making a decision on the future of Cam Robinson or Jawaan Taylor.
I really don't know the correct answer to this mess the Jaguars have gotten themselves in. This all could've been avoided if the Jaguars selected a more pro-ready prospect at 45 — someone who could come in and compete for a starting job from day one. Several players who were drafted after the 45th pick that I had ranked much higher than Little have come in and played well. Asante Samuel Jr., Azeez Ojulari, Rondale Moore, Samuel Cosmi, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Pat Friermuth, and Terrace Marshall are among them. I digress.
I'd probably try to get Little in there at left tackle during the last month of the season, but I wouldn't want to be the one to tell Cam Robinson he's getting benched.
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