Anthony Walker Jr. 2017 NFL Draft Profile

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Overview
Position: Linebacker
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 238 pounds
School: Northwestern Wildcats

Combine Performance Data
40-yard-dash
: 4.65 seconds (tied for fifth among linebackers)
Bench press: 23 reps (tied for fifth among linebackers)
Vertical jump: 30.5 inches
Broad jump: 9 feet, 8 inches
Three-cone drill: 7.23 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.34 seconds

Anthony Walker Jr. 2017 NFL Draft Profile

Anthony Walker hails from Miami, Florida. He was a three-star recruit, and was under-recruited by his home state schools of Florida, Miami and Florida State. Walker only saw offers from in-state Florida International, Buffalo, Bowling Green and of course Northwestern. He took his talents to the Big Ten and joined Pat Fitzgerald and Northwestern, which turned out to be a great decision for his career.

Still, as a freshman, the under recruited Walker failed to flash and ended up redshirting his first season. In his redshirt freshman season. Walker started in seven games and participated in ten games, totaling 51 tackles, nine for loss with a sack and a half, and two interceptions.

He saw a taste of playing time and took it from there to be a full-time starter as a redshirt sophomore. That season, he led his team with 120 tackles. He had 19 tackles for loss, four sacks, an interception and three forced fumbles in the season. It got him his first real recognition as he was a first-team All-Big Ten performer. His redshirt junior season saw a gain of some weight, but also saw a drop in some statistical categories. Walker recorded 105 tackles, ten for loss and two sacks to go with four forced fumbles. It was a small step back, but he was still recognized as a second team All-Big 10 performer.

With three years of experience, and being four years removed from high school, Walker decided it was time to move on to the NFL. How high will he go and who should he compare his game to?

Strengths

  • Does well following the quarterback in coverage.
  • Understands his assignments in coverage, and defended 12 passes in his career
  • Plays downhill and in the box well.
  • Good straight line speed to close gaps.
  • Shows good instincts in defending the run.
  • Stays lane disciplined.

Weaknesses

  • Does not have great lateral agility or change of direction ability.
  • Did not test well as an athlete.
  • Does not shed blocks well.
  • Lack of leverage has him overpowered at times.
  • Tends to miss tackles.

NFL Comparison: Mason Foster

Teams with needs at position: Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans, New York Giants

Projection: Third Round

Bottom Line

Walker is a player who is always near the ball. His mental strength cannot be understated and his ability to read plays, diagnose routes and understand the quarterback’s eyes gives him a head start on other players. However, Walker may be carrying too much weight, which limits his speed as a pass defender. He also lacks foot quickness and change of direction to blow plays up in the backfield or make athletic plays in space.

His athletic profile limits his upside, but his football acumen heightens his floor. He is a player who could be a starter in the NFL for ten years but never makes a Pro Bowl. Walker is a player that every team needs, and while he does not have the game changing ability to be a top of the draft type of player, as a mid round selection, he is safe and smart.

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