Pass-rusher DeMarcus Walker could sneak into the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft with a solid showing at the Combine
DeMarcus Walker put together a remarkable junior season in 2015. Starting all 13 games at defensive end, he recorded single-season career-highs for tackles (58), TFL (14), sacks (9), pass breakups (5), forced fumbles (3), and snagged his first career interception at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
For his astonishing play, he earned All-ACC Second Team honors from the media, Third Team accolades from coaches, and shared Florida State’s Defensive MVP Award with current Jacksonville Jaguars star Jalen Ramsey.
Walker’s MVP form continued against Ole Miss in week one of this season, where he recorded an astonishing 4.5 sacks. The Jacksonville native went on to demolish his career-highs from 2015, as he finished the 2016 regular season with 63 Tackles, 15.5 TFL and 15 Sacks.
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Walker has the size, length and athleticism evaluators covet in an edge rusher. His long arms keep blockers off his frame, and give him the ability to bat balls down at the line of scrimmage. He offers some positional versatility, as his chunky frame allows him to shift inside and play defensive tackle in obvious passing situations.
DeMarcus Walker is a physical specimen. He uses his thick, burly build and core strength to control the point of attack, work off blockers and quickly rediscover the football, which he has a nose for.
Walker plays with excellent balance, quickness and relentlessness. This enables him to get a good first step, flatten out, change direction on a dime and chase down ballcarriers.
Walker’s natural position is up for debate, he has a similar body type to that of former Florida defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard – this caused Bullard to drop to the third-round of the 2016 NFL Draft. However, Walker is the superior player, and there is always room in the NFL for a player with his pass rushing ability.
There are situations where Walker doesn’t give max effort, he is not a low-motor guy, but he needs to show tenacity on a more regular basis. His run defense needs to improve, he doesn’t consistently fight through contact and he needs to do a better job disengaging. Whether he’s defending the run or the pass, it seems that if an opponent gets a firm grip of Walker, he is eliminated from the play.
A one-speed athlete who cannot beat blockers on athleticism alone, Walker plays with a relentless mindset, but wears himself out and needs to better control his motor moving forward and eliminate sloppy plays.
Walker has tremendous upside – his swim move is a sight to behold – but he must develop a secondary move, most specifically, a power rush.
A possible selection for any team picking in the later stages of the first round, I currently have a Top-50 grade on Walker heading into the spring. If a team is in search of a twitchy, explosive edge rusher, Walker isn’t the guy they want.
With his tweener body and heavy hands, Walker has a well-rounded skill-set that should help him be a menacing force from the jump in the NFL. An outside presence on early downs, and a specialist inside rusher on passing downs, Walker will be a dangerous defensive weapon for one lucky NFL franchise.