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AP photo by Darron Cummings / Former Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker runs a drill during the NFL combine last month in Indianapolis. Walker was the first overall selection in this year's NFL draft, which started Thursday night in Las Vegas.

Updated with more information at 11:55 p.m. on April 28, 2022.

Travon Walker lived in relative obscurity on Georgia's loaded defense during the 2021 college football season.

There is nothing obscure about being the No. 1 pick of the National Football League draft.

The 6-foot-5, 272-pound defensive end from Thomaston, Georgia, was the head of his class Thursday night as the draft opened in Las Vegas, getting selected first by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Walker was viewed as a late first-round pick after Georgia's 33-18 downing of Alabama in January's championship game of the four-team playoff in Indianapolis, but it was his return trip to Indy that greatly enhanced his standing.

At the NFL combine in early March, Walker ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds and had a vertical jump of 35.5 inches, which led to the meteoric ascension that culminated with Jacksonville's decision.

"I'm the type of person who will just be where my feet are and will control what I can control in the moment," Walker said on a conference call with the Jacksonville media. "At the combine, I just attacked the task at hand and did what I was supposed to do, and everything worked out how it should have. Everybody started to realize how good of a player I can be and how good of a player I was in college.

"I'm definitely prepared for this. Being the No. 1 pick, there are a lot of expectations behind that, but it's just the game of football for me, and I'm going to continue what I've been doing and give it my all."

Walker finished tied for 10th on Georgia's defense last season with 37 tackles and tied for fourth with 7.5 tackles for loss. His selection gave the Bulldogs five all-time No. 1 picks, with Walker joining halfbacks Frank Sinkwich (1943) and Charley Trippi (1945), end Henry Babcock (1953) and quarterback Matthew Stafford (2009).

Georgia's five top overall selections matches Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Southern California for the most among college football programs.

Defenders swept Thursday's first five picks, with Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson going second to the Detroit Lions, LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. going third to the Houston Texans, Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner going fourth to the New York Jets and Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibadeaux going fifth to the New York Giants.

Stingley was a valuable piece of LSU's 2019 national championship team, amassing 38 tackles and six interceptions, but various injuries limited him to just 10 combined games the past two seasons.

Offensive players — specifically tackles and receivers — then took over with picks six through 12. The Carolina Panthers selected sixth and went with North Carolina State tackle Ikem Ekwonu, and the Giants then used their second top-10 pick on Alabama tackle Evan Neal.

Neal's selection provided the Crimson Tide a 14th consecutive draft with a first-round representative, matching Miami (1995-2008) for the longest such run ever.

The Atlanta Falcons became the first team to snag a receiver, choosing Southern California's Drake London at the eighth spot, with the Seattle Seahawks selecting Mississippi State tackle Charles Cross and the New York Jets taking Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson to round out the top 10. Ohio State receivers briefly became the theme of the first round, with the New Orleans Saints trading up to take Chris Olave at No. 11 and Detroit trading up to take Jameson Williams at No. 12.

Williams played two seasons for the Buckeyes before transferring and starring last year at Alabama.

Georgia had its second player taken when the Philadelphia Eagles used the 13th pick on nose tackle Jordan Davis, and a third Bulldogs talent went off the board when Green Bay picked 22nd and took inside linebacker Quay Walker. The Packers took a second Georgia player at No. 28, selecting defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt, and the Minnesota Vikings wrapped up the first round by choosing Georgia safety Lewis Cine.

The Bulldogs made NFL draft history by having five defenders selected in the opening round.

When the Washington Commanders grabbed Penn State's Jahan Dotson with the 16th pick and the Tennessee Titans snagged Treylon Burks of Arkansas with the 18th selection, it made NFL draft history, as six receivers were taken among the first 20. The Titans selected Burks after trading A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for the 18th pick and a third-round selection Friday night.

ESPN reported that the Eagles will give Brown a four-year extension at $100 million, with $57 million of that guaranteed.

The first quarterback went off the board with the 20th pick, when the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Kenny Pickett of the Pitt Panthers. It was the latest selection for a quarterback since 1997, when the San Francisco 49ers tabbed Virginia Tech's Jim Druckenmiller 26th.

Thursday's first round was expected to be chaotic and lived up to that, with Walker being a top overall pick that seemed inconceivable two months ago.

"It's been a little nerve-wracking with all the media," Walker said. "I'm not big on media. I've been trying to take these last 24 hours in stride, and I've been with my family the whole time. I'm just enjoying this with my family."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

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