The national champion Georgia Bulldogs were built on their defense. Guys like Jordan Davis, Devonte Wyatt, Travon Walker, Nakobe Dean, and Lewis Cine are all getting serious draft heat. One player getting a tad overlooked by the others is linebacker Quay Walker. Walker, the 31st ranked high school prospect in his class, began starting in 2020. He was Dean’s partner in crime at the linebacking spot for Georgia, but the lack of experience is a big factor across his tape. Let’s see if Walker can overcome this and assert himself as a formidable Day 2 player.
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Name: Quay Walker
Jersey: No. 7
Weight: 240 lbs
Games Watched: Kentucky (2021), Alabama (2021), Clemson (2021)
Major Injury History: None
Walker has average instincts. He’s not the first to react to the ball being snapped, but he isn’t the last. Walker can break down the play well and be patient; however, isn’t going to blow you away with instincts. Walker understands where he should be most of the time and has a clear love for the role he plays as well. However, he must process better, and that is a result of the lack of experience. This is an area Walker will need to become quicker with to be over the average virtual line.
This is arguably Walker’s best trait. He does not miss tackles. Most of the time, Walker is coming downhill and will square up the ball carrier to make an efficient tackle. When moving side-to-side, Walker is almost as good but can let the ball carrier slip outside his radius. However, this is rare compared to how often he attacks downhill and makes textbook tackles.
Block Shedding (7.5/10)
Walker works extremely hard to get off his blocks but can be inconsistent. He gets his hands moving quite often while trying to rip off of the lineman, and it’s pretty hit or miss whether or not Walker will win the rep. This is probably the major next step in Walker’s development. If you can get him to shed blocks more often, especially in the second level, he can surmount to a more than solid contributor in the NFL.
Run Defense (7/10)
Another area where Walker can be a tad inconsistent. With space eaters on the field for Georgia like Davis, Walker should’ve been able to capitalize more off of this, but it was Dean making the highlight plays. Walker does have his own role, though, and can be a bit of a space-eater himself, so he knows how to be versatile in the run.
Walker has near-elite speed. We talk a lot about the sideline-to-sideline ability for a linebacker, and Walker demonstrates it well here, but it’s also coming downhill where he’s quick. He can easily track down a ball carrier, is a key candidate for being the free rusher, and will shoot himself right at any lineman to create gaps in the scheme. The speed and closedown ability will be a huge reason why teams draft Walker and a huge foundation for development.
Pass Rush Ability (7.25/10)
Used on a lot of blitzes, Walker does well to get involved rushing the passer. Again, we keep preaching how he knows his role and does not the highlight plays but what’s asked. Walker explodes from his linebacker spot into the opposite lineman. He’s shown some bend at times as well, which was impressive. Overall, however, there’s not too much end result here, so you can’t say Walker is a superb pass-rusher. Teams should continue to use him on blitzes because of the speed, which makes him a good option here.
Man Coverage (7.25/10)
For a player built like Walker, he’s actually done pretty well in man coverage. Now, there isn’t the biggest sample size, and his play hangs by a thread, but nothing bad has happened yet. Two reps come to mind specifically—the first, against Alabama’s Slade Bolden. Bolden did get inside leverage on Walker, but Walker stayed with him just enough to prevent a target. Then, potential early Day 2 pick Wan’Dale Robinson. Robinson also went on a slant route beat Walker off the line, but again Walker used his speed to recover right in time. In that same game, Walker was called for pass interference whilst covering the running back, which shows how volatile his man coverage can be.
Zone Coverage (7.25/10)
Walker had a heavy amount of zone and was average. What we mean by this is there were no glaring holes in his play here on film, but nothing that made you think he stands out. What Walker should improve upon is deciding to attack the passing lane quicker. To do so, Walker must read the quarterbacks’ eyes and make a decision. Besides this, there are no real complaints about Walker’s zone coverage ability.
Ball Skills (3/5)
The production from Walker’s ball skills was rough in college. He never recorded an interception and only had two passes defended throughout his whole career. What Walker does do well is use his length. Walker can disrupt and simply annoy the passing lanes because of his frame. That is what boosts Walker’s grade with this trait and the baseline to improve his ball skills.
Versatility is a two-fold topic. One, does the player have experience in multiple positions? And two, can the player succeed in the NFL playing in multiple spots. Both are true for Walker. Walker lined up pretty much everywhere for Georgia. He played all three linebacker spots for Georgia and has the play speed, size, and some strength to continue this later on in his career.
With all the talent Walker was surrounded with, he was able to thrive at Georgia. He’s a player that loves the role he’s in, which NFL teams will take note of. While Walker isn’t at the top of the draft boards like Davis and Dean, he has a very strong case to go in the first three rounds. Now, if Walker goes mid-second, that would be a bit absurd; however, sneaking in the late second wouldn’t be all that bad. Realistically, Walker will go in the third round, as he should, and will need some time to develop before taking a starting job.
Rookie Projection: Rotational Linebacker
Third-Year Projection: Low-Mid Tier Starter
Player Grade (78/100): Mid-Third Round
Player Comparison: Foyesade Oluokun
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