From now until the 2019 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#15 D’Andre Walker/EDGE/6’2 251 lbs
- Can drop into zone coverage
- Capable of carrying running backs down the field in man coverage
- Packs a punch with his powerful arms
- Can drive back offensive linemen once he gets hands under shoulder pads
- Crashes fast from the backside of plays
- Gets off blocks to fill holes against the run
- Has an adequate swim move to get inside
- Can play with his hand in the dirt or standing up
- Good size and length for the position
- Needs to do a better job at holding ground
- Lacks strength, gets steam rolled by bigger tackles
- Lacks bend on the edge
- Flexibility around the edge needs work, struggles to get low
- Average burst off the line of scrimmage
- Pad level needs to be more consistent
- Still very raw as a pass rusher
- Only one year as a starter
- 2018: 45 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles
- Career: 112 tackles, 27.5 tackles for a loss, 13.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles
- Led Georgia with 14 QB pressures in 2018
- 54 games played, 13 career starts
- Did not start until senior season
- Had 13.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks in a rotational role in 2017
- Invited to 2019 Senior Bowl but had to withdraw due to injury
- Had surgery in January that also caused him to miss the NFL Combine
It took D’Andre Walker three years but he finally got the opportunity he was waiting for in his senior year. In his first and only season as a starter, Walker recorded 45 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks and 14 quarterback pressures. While not an eye-popping stat line, Walker showed flashes of potential in his first audition as a starter. His name has gone under the radar as Walker has not had a chance to expand his pre draft stock due to an injury that has kept him out of the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine.
Walker’s go-to pass rush move is a swim move where he can use his long frame to create a lane to the quarterback. The Georgia pass rusher can line up either with his hand in the dirt (as he does on the play above) or standing up. On the play above, the pass rusher uses a swim move to swim onto the outside shoulder of the LSU interior lineman, giving him the leverage needed to get to the quarterback. Many of Walker’s sacks came as a result of stunts and interior blitzes but most of his noteworthy sacks were the result of an impressive swim move.
When it comes to defending against the run, Walker gets a passing grade. He is capable of getting off blocks so long as he plays with a good pad level. If Walker can get his hands under the shoulder pads of opposing linemen, the results will typically go in his favor. On the play above, the pass rusher takes on a pulling guard and is able to shed the block and record a tackle for no gain.
One area that Walker does very well in is crashing in quickly from the backside of plays. Offenses cannot afford to leave the pass rusher unblocked as he attacks quickly from the backside, a big reason why he was able to record 27.5 tackles for a loss over his career. While Walker’s pass rushing ability is still very raw, his play as a run blocker is a lot more polished as he shows the ability to fill in gaps, fight off blocks and crash from the backside.
The world does not know much about Walker’s athletic testing as he was held out of the Senior Bowl and Combine but just by watching him play, you get the sense that he has incredible size and length. Watch on the play above, Walker is trampled to the floor but is able to shoot himself back up and records a tackle solely with his long reach. Walker’s long arms are a raw tool that can be further polished at the next level. He uses his hands well when pass rushing or shedding blocks. He has a strong punch and could develop a wider repertoire of pass rush moves with his long reach.
Walker’s bend around the edge is one part of his game that needs major improvement, if possible. The pass rusher struggles to dip or bend around the edge as he has very limited flexibility. On both plays above, Walker is easily handled by the Kentucky tackle. On the first, he is easily overpowered and thrown to the ground. On the second, he fails to show the ability to bend and is run up the arc and kept at bay. I have my serious doubts about his ability getting around the edge as Walker also has an average at best burst off the line. Without a serious burst or bend, Walker will have to find a serious counter move to survive at the next level.
Earlier I talked about how Walker does a good job at getting under the pad level of opposing lineman. The problem is that he needs to do a more consistent job at playing at a good pad level. Walker can be bullied off the line of scrimmage as he is on the play above where he is bulldozed about four yards off the line of scrimmage before being thrown to the ground.
Walker is a victim of having an injury derail any potential momentum he could have built during the athletic testing of the pre draft process. Without the opportunity to showcase his athleticism or physical tools in front of scouts first hand, the world is left solely with Walker’s tape to work with. While his tape makes a good case for a capable run defender with one good pass rush move, it also makes a case for a lot of Walker’s flaws such as his average burst and bend around the edge. Walker is a very raw prospect with just one year of starting experience so there is hope that there is still a higher ceiling that awaits him once he is able to access NFL coaching.
Projection: Late Day Two
Games Watched: vs Tennessee, vs LSU, vs Kentucky, vs Alabama