NFL Draft Prospects 2019: Edge Rusher - D'Andre Walker, Georgia
This former top 100 national recruit from Georgia could not crack the starting lineup through his first three years in Athens because the talent they have had on the defensive side of the ball, but he was a key reserve as a junior with 13.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Last season he became a leader and impact player for the Bulldogs, as he led the team with 11 TFLs and seven sacks through 13 games.
Walker misses some height for the edge at 6’2”, but with 34 3/8-inch arms his length is plenty good. He has a ton of power in his hands and squeezes runs to the inside. While he can set a physical edge and put tight-ends on their heels in the run game, he is also a frequent visitor in the backfield, eluding or smacking pullers and slanting inside. He shuts down sweeps and end-arounds, while showing excellent pursuit and chasing a lot of guys down from behind.
Walker has experience rushing from two and three-point stances, standing up over guards and at actual linebacker. He has one of the better club-rip and chop-rip combos in this draft class and can free himself with it even if the blocker has hands inside his chest already. Walker also utilizes an up-and-under move combined with a swim inside and shows a pretty powerful long arm to attack tackles who aren’t pro-active with their hands.
When he stunts inside, the former Bulldog has this wrong-arm chop and dip to avoid the grasps of the blocker. He has a good feel for working off stunts, where he is patient with setting up loops and making the O-line commit. He was almost unblockable against South Carolina last season.
However, Walker is a little inconsistent as a run-defender and especially when he faces an aggressive blocker he occasionally gets caught peeking inside, which allows runners to get to the edge. He doesn’t show any dynamic burst or bend to threaten tackles off the edge if he doesn’t win with his hands.
At his size, Walker will have to be a 3-4 outside linebacker and his coverage responsibilities have been very limited, primarily covering the flats and maybe chipping tight-ends before dropping out, where he already showed some tightness.
Walker was a consistent impact player for the Bulldog defense, even when guys around him were missing and he was banged up. You felt a difference when he was on the field compared to when he wasn’t watching them play last season. Yet, he has been a starter for just one year and shown some athletic limitations.
Grade: Mid-thirdPublished 06 Apr 2019, 12:00 IST