2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Travon Walkerby Mason Thompson January 27, 2022 4 comments
The Georgia Bulldogs were carried to their national title with their defense. With Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, and Lewis Cine on the defensive side, players such as Travon Walker go unnoticed sometimes. Walker came to the Bulldogs as a five-star recruit as a defensive tackle, the 22nd-highest recruit in the country, and second-ranked in Georgia alone.
After playing as a defensive tackle for his first two seasons at 300 pounds, Walker made the drop down to 275. During his junior season, he played all across the defensive line and was more on the edge than he had in years past. In his first two years, Walker totaled 28 tackles, including 5.5 for a loss, 3.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. As a junior, Walker posted career-highs in tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, and pass deflections. In a draft that features a plethora of pass-rushers, Walker could slip through the cracks and is there for the taking for teams at the bottom of the first round.
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Name: Travon Walker
Jersey: No. 44
Position: EDGE Rusher
Weight: 275 lbs
Games Watched: Alabama (2020), Alabama (2021), Clemson (2021), Kentucky (2021)
Major Injury History: None
Pass Rush Skills (12/15)
Although he has spent most of his career as a defensive tackle, Walker has a surprising amount of pass-rush skills at his disposal. He uses a lot of explosiveness and power to his advantage off the line of scrimmage and is a superb athlete. There were multiple occasions where Walker would align from a three-tech spot and maneuver his way to the opposite side of the offensive line at a rapid pace to get to the quarterback.
Unfortunately, there are some weaknesses here. Because Walker started his time at Georgia as a defensive tackle, he didn’t necessarily have the disposal of pass-rush moves that many other edge-rushers have. As a result, when his first plan of action from a pass-rush standpoint didn’t work, he struggled to get any extra ground away from the lineman. As time goes on, he will learn more in this regard.
Walker is an uber-athletic player that has lots of explosiveness to his game. His explosiveness is usually the first thing that you see when watching film. He shows good lateral mobility to pair with his immediate burst off the line of scrimmage. It is fun to watch Walker go to work and let his level of athleticism show up time and time again.
First Step (9.5/10)
It is almost unfair how quick Walker is off the snap. He has an immediate advantage because of his get-off and can put pressure on the offensive lineman by getting almost right past them in an instant. Georgia used him in multiple different spots, and each time, it seemed as if Walker had taken three steps when he had only taken one. His burst off the snap is impeccable.
While Walker is a quick-twitch athlete, he doesn’t necessarily win around the edges very often. He relies more on doing work in the gray area in the interior of the defensive line. He doesn’t have the bend that the top pass-rushers in this class do, such as Aidan Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibodeaux, George Karlaftis, or David Ojabo, but he does have a few occasions where he can round the corner and get to the quarterback.
Hand Usage (7.5/10)
Walker has explosive hands. Right from the snap, he forces his hands into the offensive linemen and pushes them back. Unfortunately, once the lineman gets control of Walker, he can’t gain any leverage on them. He struggles to reshape his hands on the lineman and becomes stagnant in his pass-rush sequence. When he does get his hands in the right position, Walker can do some work on the lineman. When he doesn’t, he almost becomes a non-factor in the play.
Walker has a constant motor. He continuously chased down plays from the opposite side numerous times during the four games watched. While Walker may not have made the tackle alone, he was almost always in the gang tackle. Walker shoots through gaps quickly and plays all-out each play.
There were a few occasions where Walker was a step or two behind the ball-carrier when he launched himself to try and make a tackle and missed. With the length he has, Walker should have little to no issues here, but he does struggle here and there. With his size and explosiveness, this is slightly concerning in some instances, but he’ll most likely get better here.
Strength at the LOS (9/10)
He can turn the speed into power at the point of attack. Walker has power against both the pass and run. There were multiple occasions in the four games watched where Walker collapsed the pocket and forced the quarterback to move up or around him, and it sometimes led to a sack by another player. Against the run, Walker took on double teams often and still made impactful plays.
Run Defense (8.5/10)
As a physical specimen, Walker has everything he needs to succeed against the run. He is a very lengthy prospect that has quick-twitch explosiveness. Walker holds his ground and anchors well when getting blocked by a double team and can collapse running lanes quickly. Unfortunately, he struggles to disengage when tasked with going against double teams. If he can work on disengaging here, he will be even scarier.
Walker has worked just about everywhere on the defensive front. He has played as a pure nose tackle, one or three-tech, an edge rusher, and has even dropped back into coverage. A defensive coordinator can get very creative with the versatile pass-rusher and play him in multiple ways and positions.
Walker is one of the most fun evaluations throughout the draft process thus far. His versatility across the defensive line is something out of a lab, and the fact he still has the explosiveness and get-off he has at his size is petrifying for opposing offenses. There are some slight concerns about his bend and the ability to disengage from blocks. Other than that, Walker is a player with few concerns. He is similar to players like Ryan Kerrigan and Arik Armstead, who Walker is similar to. The team that is lucky enough to get their hands on Walker will have a dynamic defensive playmaker at their disposal for years to come.
Rookie Projection: Starting Inside/Outside Pass Rusher
Third Year Projection: All-Pro Pass Rusher
Final Grade (85.5/100): Late First Round
Player Comp: Arik Armstead