The Jacksonville Jaguars are divisional leaders and trail only Buffalo in point differential through the first three weeks of the 2022 NFL season. Doug Pederson and Trevor Lawrence are drawing deserved praise for the impressive 2-1 start, but Mike Caldwell’s defensive unit is performing just as well: Jacksonville is the only NFL team with top-five DVOA rankings on both offense and defense.
The Jaguars are making it abundantly clear just how valuable coaching is in the National Football League. But while Caldwell and his coaching staff have certainly been incredible, it’s been the addition of two first-round defenders (read Derrik) that’s made the biggest difference in Sacksonville.
2022 first overall draft pick Travon Walker has constantly displayed power, length, and mental processing that simply isn’t normal for any NFL player, let alone a rookie who started just 15 games in college. Despite frequent bursts of dominance, though, Walker’s play hasn’t filled up the Jaguars’ stat sheet.
The same can’t be said of 27th overall pick Devin Lloyd. Jaguars faithful has already seen massive dividends after the team traded up for a linebacker who turns 24 tomorrow (happy early birthday!). What seemed like a questionable move at the time looks like the steal of the draft now: Lloyd currently leads all rookies in combined tackles and is tied for the league lead in passes defensed.
After Trevor Lawrence was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week, the NFL crowned Lloyd Defensive Rookie of the Month.
Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Month! (September)@chrisolave_ | @DevinLloyd_ pic.twitter.com/c0Hs1JOIUe— NFL (@NFL) September 29, 2022
Lloyd was arguably one of the most pro-ready defensive prospects in his draft class, but he also missed several weeks of summer practice due to a hamstring injury. The fact that Lloyd looks this good this early despite the lack of early reps is incredible.
Josh Allen, Peter Schrager and myself all believe Lloyd is a strong candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year.