Right now there are two linebackers who are expected to go into the first round of the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft. Devin Lloyd from Utah and Nakobe Dean from Georgia. Dean’s dominance was evident in the film, but given his height in question, many scouts are looking to another Georgia linebacker, Quay Walker.
Walker has slowly worked his way up the ranks since he signed up for the NFL Draft, but following his performance at the NFL Combine, his skills have appealed to many NFL teams. Not only does Walker have the skills to be a starter in the NFL, but he also has the ideal metrics. He stands a hair under 6-foot-4, with a 6-foot-8 wingspan and weighs 240 pounds. His frame, coupled with his 4.52-40 time, caused quite a stir.
Walker is an instinctive linebacker in the trenches, a ferocious tackler in space, and he can dump blocks with ease. Let’s watch the movie to see why teams are beginning to consider Walker a first-round pick!
Eating blocks at the line of scrimmage.
One of the very first features that stood out in the movie was how often Walker eats up blocks in the running game. Seems like nobody can get their hands on this guy; He’s one of the raunchiest linebackers I’ve ever seen.
Walker is very instinctive between fights. He quickly recognizes blockages and shoots gaps, keeps ball carriers in their lanes. In this first clip, we see Walker keeping his distance in the ditches and preventing the offensive lineman from pinning him.
In the final clip, Walker flashed up the B gap, bouncing off the guard and tripping the quarterback
Dropping blocks with ease makes Walker a good next-level middle linebacker. Someone who can take on offensive linemen and fill lanes so outside linebackers can smash the ball.
Find the gap and shoot through!
Above we saw Walker drop blocks when defending runs between tackles. Now we see him identify and stop playing to the outside.
Against Florida, Walker fills in the A-gap track and then uses his straight arm to maintain the separation, only to bounce off the blocker, which hits the running back for just a brief win.
In the clip below, Walker is now on the play side and does a great job keeping his outside arm free and forcing the ball carrier inwards.
We’ve covered Walker’s ability to plug runs and stretch plays. Now watch him chase the sidelines of the ball carriers.
In the following clips, once the ball carrier enters the open field, Walker uses his downhill speed while navigating traffic to track him down.
Never count Walker out. He plays fast and physically. According to the PFF, he missed just seven tackles in 138 attempts in his four years with Georgia.
In Walker’s 52 games played, he has a total of 139 duels81 solo, 11 tackles for loss, five sacks and a fumble recovery.
Working under cover.
When Georgia’s defenses ran nickel or dime packages, Walker was often lined up to cover under stretches. When out of the hash, he can be a bit handy with receivers, but has a quick pursuit on the ball and his ferocious tackles stop ball carriers in their lanes.
In the second clip in the video above, Tennessee is in a 3×1 formation and Walker is in the slot. His job is to pick up anyone who gets the ball on or behind the line of scrimmage. He sniffs out the fast screen and takes the perfect angle that only allows for a brief win.
One part of his game that shows room for improvement is when he was asked to cover receivers in man coverage.
In the clip below, Walker is lined up outside of coverage. He uses his hands at the top of the route to give the receiver an opportunity to part.
Walker once again faces physical strains throughout the stretch and at the receivers’ break, which throws him off balance. Walker ends up chasing his man, leaving his back to the quarterback to prevent any anticipation of the throw.
Walker was used all over the field in this stacked Georgia defense. He filled the lanes between tackles, played as an overhang defender in 3×1 situations, flashed the A gap, charged the passer off the edge, and we often saw him chasing ball carriers from the opposite side of the field. One area he needs to improve on is his man coverage in the middle and deep of the field against physical tight spots.
Once drafted, his ideal role would be an inside linebacker who can play the ball in open space; if necessary, he can also take on a middle linebacker role (MIKE).
With just one area of his game that needs improvement, NFL coaching will make Walker an instant starter. With his overall skill, measurements, and athleticism, we shouldn’t be surprised if Walker is the second or third linebacker off the board.