In a minor surprise, Quay Walker jumped Nakobe Dean to become the first Bulldog linebacker, and third defender overall, selected in tonight’s NFL Draft. The Crisp County native was selected by the Packers at #22 with the first of two picks in tonight’s first round.
While integral to Georgia’s national title defense, Walker was a guy who was overlooked in favor of other standouts on that unit. However as draft evaluations began in earnest whispers emerged that Walker might actually be the top NFL prospect in a stacked UGA linebacking corps.
Walker started all 15 games of the 2021 season, tallying 67 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, an eye-opening 25 quarterback pressures, and 3 pass breakups for good measure. The 6’4, 240 pound senior didn’t start a game in his first three seasons despite extensive playing time. But he saved his best for last, with a team-leading right tackles and six QB pressures in the national title game against Alabama.
Walker built on that momentum with a bravura Combine performance, during which he ran a solid 4.52 forty and posted a solid 32 inch vertical. Those numbers hint at Walker’s explosive athleticism, including excellent closing speed. He’s also a fluid enough athlete at 240 pounds to turn and run with tight ends, cover backs out of the backfield, and not be exposed in zone coverage. He also has a nearly 6’8 inch wing span, which along with his speed explains why he seemed at times to cover way more space in the passing game than an inside linebacker should be able to.
Walker is a reliable tackler, and is willing to come up and knock heads, but he doesn’t deliver quite to wallop of fellow ‘backers Channing Tindall and Nakobe Dean. Walker’s coverage skills however probably do make him the most versatile of the three, which explains him coming off the board first.
Here’s hoping this southwest Georgia boy packs his long johns and enjoys a long, productive career in America’s Dairy Land. Plus, he gets to keep the G on his helmet.
Go Pack! And...