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Top draft pick Walker, LB Lloyd eager to lift Jaguars defense

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Top draft pick Walker, LB Lloyd eager to lift Jaguars defense
Defensive end Travon Walker is seen on the big screen after being selected as the No. 1 overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2022 NFL Draft on Thursday in Las Vegas. Photo by James Atoa/UPI | License Photo

LAS VEGAS, April 29 (UPI) -- Two first-round picks of defenders by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2022 NFL Draft, . Travon Walker and Devon Lloyd, say they ready to help the team battle tough AFC South opponents.

Both players should be welcome additions for a Jaguars defense that ranked among the worst in the NFL last season.

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"I'm a special player and a special person," Lloyd, a former linebacker at Utah, said Thursday at the Caesars Forum conference center in Las Vegas. "I feel like they believe in me, have confidence in me and I'm not going to let them down."

The Jaguars selected Walker, a defensive end, with the No. 1 overall pick. The former Georgia star wasn't expected to be the top pick early on in the pre-draft process, but improved his stock through team meetings and NFL Scouting Combine testing.

Walker watched the draft with his family at an Atlanta hotel. He said the 24-hour window leading up to the draft was a "nerve-wracking" experience.

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"I have to say there's a lot of expectations behind [being the top pick], but it's just the game of football to me," Walker told reporters on a video conference call.

"I'm just going to continue to do what I've been doing, giving my all to the game of football because that's something that I love to do. I'm not making it more pressure on myself than it should be."

The 6-foot-5, 272-pound defender is expected to start alongside Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen. Allen joined the franchise as the No. 7 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

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"I feel like we're going to bond real well, and he's going to be a great leader to us because I feel like he's going to help me go in the right direction coming in," Walker said of Allen.

The Jaguars were only slated to pick once in the first round, but traded three picks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for the No. 27 overall selection. They then used that pick on Lloyd, who some regard as the best linebacker in the class.

Lloyd, a first-team All-American and the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, ranked second in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 22 tackles for a loss.

He said his goal is to "start" in Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season and he can't wait to test his game against the world's most-skilled football players.

"I'm going to be playing against guys like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and running backs like Jonathan Taylor, Derrick Henry," Lloyd said Thursday. "Those are the challenges of playing against better competition, but it's about how you look at it.

"I'm excited to play against the best of the best. Those are opportunities I'm looking forward to."

The Jaguars do not have a second-round pick in the draft. They have the first and sixth picks in the third round.

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Second- and third-round draft coverage will start at 7 p.m. EDT Friday on ESPN, NFL Network and ABC.

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