Anthony Walker Jr, LB
School: Northwestern | Conference: BIG-10
College Experience: RS Junior | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 6-1 / 238 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 4th or 5th round
NFL Comparison: Audie Cole
Anthony Walker is another player I think was way better in the season before he decided to declare. Walker reportedly gained 20 lbs before his redshirt junior season and it has had a negative impact in my view. In 2015 Walker was a much more effective player in part because of his burst, block shedding ability. Those skills worked in tandem with each other and allowed him to make a ton of plays. All of these things aren’t likely to be affected by his weight but I think his burst and sideline ability definitely are. 2016 Walker is sluggish, loses sight of the ball and gets washed out of plays too often. He’s definitely hard to judge given the times he has flashed on blitzes and in coverage. Overall I think his tape is filled with inconsistency despite his flashes. I'm not sure which player he will be in the league but I think a good first step to regaining his 2015 form is to drop 8-12 lbs.
- Proficient in dropping back and playing zone coverage. Walker shows good awareness of the field in his zone and is usually able to close quickly to break up a pass or tackle his assignment. He has 9 passes defended over the course of his last two seasons.
- Is a pest rushing the passer. When the gap is exposed he can show impressive closing burst and seemingly has a high rate of contact if not impeded.
- Flashed great vision when scanning the backfield, can get himself into position fairly well and take good angles to bring down the ball carrier for a loss.
- For the most part a reliable tackler that understand how to wrap up.
- Painful to watch when he’s washed out on blocks and completely take out of plays. In a combination of losing vision, not fighting through blocks and waiting for the play to come to him he left A LOT of meat on the bone in 2016.
- Tight in his movements and lacks fluidity and agility and labors with a change of direction.
- Related to the first weakness just not good at fighting through traffic on a consistent basis, plays high and gets washed out, lack functional strength in close quarters, and becomes stagnant and a non-factor.
- Needs to go on a cut and drop around 8-12 lbs to restore some of his athletic ability.
Let’s see his work:
I love Anthony Walker Jr.'s closing speed pic.twitter.com/bRpm6FYdz0— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) February 19, 2017
LB Anthony Walker Jr (Northwestern, 6'1", 235lbs). His greatest strength may be in zone-coverage. Keeps play in front of him, watches QB. pic.twitter.com/XXywvBBy5x— My Colts Account (@MyColtsAccount) January 30, 2017
LB Anthony Walker Jr (Northwestern, 6'1", 235lbs). The missed opportunities are very frustrating, too. pic.twitter.com/79a4JvIuJP— My Colts Account (@MyColtsAccount) January 30, 2017
LB Anthony Walker Jr (Northwestern, 6'1", 235lbs). Tough to know assignments, but often struggles to get off blocks, chooses poor lanes. pic.twitter.com/lHnMWXy8N8— My Colts Account (@MyColtsAccount) January 30, 2017
Titans beat writer Jason Wolf suggests the team could target a linebacker with one of their two picks in the third round.
Wolf offers Northwestern's Anthony Walker as a possibility as an inside linebacker in that area, but an extra edge rusher is also possible after getting very little out of Kevin Dodd during his rookie season. Walker is an athletic linebacker who looked like Northwestern's premiere defender in a majority of his games
He is playing way too heavy right now, and I don't think he's in the shape he needs to be in. But, hey, he's always productive and he plays in a physical conference, so that's a plus. He can run but he's not a great athlete. I think he'll be a much better player if he plays around 230.
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
I was expecting a lot more to be honest and frankly am a little confused. Even watching his 2015 tape Walker left me a bit underwhelmed. I had a weird feeling watching his tape and highlights and comparing it to his stats wondering where all the production came from. I saw that most of it came against Illinois, Indiana, Duke, and Minnesota. He all but disappeared on the stat sheet in his games against Ohio State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Iowa in 2016. That's a bit concerning.
His core issue of getting taken out on plays, not fighting through blocks, waiting for plays to come to him, and all the other related issues are something we Redskin fans have already witnessed on the team for years now. This is not to say of course that Walker can’t get better. I view him as a project that’s projected a little too rich in my opinion right now. Walker could be that quick sideline to sideline linebacker that busts plays, gets to the QB, and shoots gaps in the middle consistently for TFL but it's going to take a lot of work from him and from the position coach he’s under to coach up fundamentals and to become a more consistent player.
One area I was impressed with was his coverage ability. He’s not going out there providing A+ coverage all the time but he does get himself into a good position to break up the pass and has recorded an impressive number of interceptions in his career. In that aspect of his game, I think he brings something to the table the Redskins don’t currently have at the ILB position but I’m not sure he’ll be much better than the current starters in game action.