A lot of the talk and chatter regarding defensive ends in this draft class have centered around day 1 prospects such as Myles Garrett, Solomon Thomas, Derek Barnett, and Taco Charlton. Here’s a fact about the 2017 NFL Draft, defensive end is a very deep position with A LOT of talent on the board. Which means all is not lost if Cleveland uses the first overall pick on Garrett. In fact, as we explore options on day 2 and even day 3, there is some intriguing prospects to study and get excited about. Today, our focus will be on a day 2 prospect out of Florida State.
DeMarcus Walker falls into that category of great prospects that slip out of the mind of many due to the lack of attention and media buzz. Thanks to a very deep class, some team will have the opportunity to select a high caliber and talented player in Walker on day 2. A top 50 overall prospect coming out of high school, Walker famously switched his commitment from Alabama to Florida State (A defensive lineman saying NO to Nick Saban?), enrolled early and made an immediate impact with the seminoles. Walker was a major contributor in 2014 during the team’s run towards a national championship, and by his junior season he had a firm grip as a starter.
The All-American was second in the nation in sacks this season, and his ability to cause disruptions and chaos in the opponents backfield rivaled anyone in the country. Something that really stuck out to me about Walker was his durability, and having the impact of being a three down starter, further increases his value as a prospect. He has strong instincts against the run, and is able push blockers backwards in pass defending packages. When he wasn’t the primary pass rusher, he was a positive contributor in helping his teammates along the defensive line taking on blocks and helping to create holes along the line of scrimmage. Overall, the defensive end prospect was a volume machine, producing an incredible amount of sacks, tackles, and disruption in the opponents backfield during his time with the Seminoles.
Here is Walker’s stats for the 2016 season: 68 tackles, 16 sacks, 21.5 tackles for a loss, 3 forced fumbles, 2 passes batted.
*Please Note: DeMarcus Walker did not participate in drills during the combine due to rehabbing from foot surgery (bone spur in his foot). He is now one hundred percent healthy and unless noted, all stats below are from the recent Florida State Pro Day in Tallahassee.
School: Florida State
Jersey Number: 44
Weight: 280 lbs.
Hands: 10 1/2”
Arm Length: 33”
Bench Press: 18 Reps (Combine) (20 Reps at Pro Day)
40 Time: 4.76 (Pro Day)
Broad Jump: 9’ 7”
How the measurables translate for Defensive Ends:
Information on measurables courtesy of Draft Breakdown
Drill Target Explanation
40 yd dash 4.85 Speed over distance
10 yd split 1.70 Initial quickness
225 Bench 24 Upper body strength
Vertical Jump33″ Explosiveness
Broad Jump 9’9″ Explosiveness
20 yd shuttle 4.30 Flexibility/burst/balance
60 yd shuttle11.8 Endurance
3 cone drill 7.35 Agility/COD
Do Your Homework
Below is a selection of highlights and game film of DeMarcus Walker in action. Opponents include: Florida, Wake Forrest, Ole Miss, Louisville, Syracuse, Miami, and North Carolina.
- High volume, impact player in terms of sacks, tackles, and tackles for a loss.
- High durability. Has the ability to be a 3 down starter, and play a high volume of snaps per game.
- Has the ability to push blockers backwards and was a major contributor more often than not in collapsing the pocket in the passing attack.
- Has a great first move when lining up on the edge to get past blockers to rush the passer.
- Has great awareness for where the play is going to happen, and has strong instincts against the run.
- Tackles with authority, and finishes his hits on the opposition.
- Plenty of growth and experience having played all four years at FSU.
- Love his frame and build for the position. Best projected to be a 4-3 defensive end at the next level.
- While Walker does have some speed, he will need to improve upon his first step to give him more opportunities to get into the opponents backfield.
- Has some trouble when the quarterback is able to escape from the pocket.
- Does not always run through his hips, and relies too much on his lower body and athleticism.
- His movement laterally needs improvement…at times the runner would out-hustle Walker along the edge to extend the play.
- Slightly undersized to play defensive end in a 4-3.
- Recently had surgery on his foot to remove bone spur that he admitted to playing with during his senior season.
Based on a lot of what I watched on film, it seems like the biggest area of improvement that Walker needs to make is with his speed, and overall motor. However, as he continues to develop at the next level he can improve over time in these areas. Perhaps that is the reason why he is projected to go on day 2, and has slid down some big boards. However, I really do believe there is a lot of talent in DeMarcus Walker. The volume, impact, production, and skill set are all there on film. There is a reason why he was second in the nation in sacks this season, and third on the all time sacks list in FSU history.
If the San Francisco 49ers do not address the pass rushing position on day 1 than I believe they should take a long hard look at DeMarcus Walker. Perhaps he might be a bit undersized to play the edge in a 4-3, however the team might perhaps envision Walker as a 3-Technique. Either way, what intrigues me more than anything is Walker’s ability to get to the passer. The 49ers need all the help they can get in this department, and if Walker’s production and volume transitions smoothly at the next level then he will be a day 2 steal for the 49ers.
Every year, some talented and intriguing prospects begin to slip down the draft boards. I am going to be a little bold here and say that DeMarcus Walker will still be on the board for the 49ers in the third round. Two reasons for this…One, defensive end is very deep this year, and two, his foot injury that kept him from performing at the combine. At the moment round 3 seems to be a fair and valued spot to select Walker should the 49ers be interested.
Draft Projection: 3rd Round
What are YOUR thoughts on DeMarcus Walker? Do you see him slipping to the third round? If the 49ers don't address the pass rushing position on day 1, does Walker interest you as a day 2 prospect? Share in the comment below!