Washington currently has 14 UDFAs on the roster, but that list of players is subject to a lot of change. In previous years, we’ve put together profiles of players only to see them cut by the team a day before the profile was set to publish (or a day after it did publish). In fact, in just the 3 weeks or so since the 2022 draft, we have already seen a lot of churn in this part of the roster among both UDFAs and veteran free agents.
These articles about the bottom-of-the-roster players are not intended to suggest that any given player is bound for glory; rather, the articles are intended to celebrate the ongoing fight of each player to extend his NFL dream.
For those of you who appreciate the fight of the underdog, I hope you enjoy today’s article and the others that will follow in this “2022 UDFA Spotlight” series.
Tre Walker, Linebacker, Idaho
Tre Walker is a bit of an old-school inside linebacker who is strong in run support, a good tackler, but probably limited in pass coverage. Like most UDFAs, Walker will face an uphill battle to earn a roster spot in the NFL.
Walker’s college career
The Daily News (not the one from New York) did a good article on Walker a year ago that covered his background and got some comments from his coach. Here’s part of that article:
[Vandals coach Paul Petrino] said the “sky is the limit” for Walker, an All-American who was named the Big Sky’s preseason defensive MVP on Sunday during events centered around the conference’s media day.
Walker appeared in each of Idaho’s 11 games as a freshman, primarily as a reserve inside linebacker who exhibited a high ceiling. But at the time, it wasn’t a given that he’d develop into the play-disrupting force he is today, a smash-mouth hitter who’s scary fast for his position too.
After earning a starting nod in 2019, Walker demonstrated his abilities with a staggering 138 total tackles — good for No. 6 in single-season UI history. That season thrust Walker into the FCS spotlight, making him a favorite among fans who have been spoiled lately by exceptional linebacker play at the school.
A year later, he was tabbed a unanimous first-team all-conference performer and landed on five All-America teams after Idaho’s shortened spring season, during which he appeared in four of six games because of COVID-19 exposure protocols. Walker led the Big Sky in tackles per game at 13.5 and further proved the point that there isn’t a more respected player among these Vandals.
“People gravitate toward him,” Petrino said. “He’s always been a leader. When he became more dominant, then everyone else (outside the program) started to see it. Leadership is part of his DNA.”
It didn’t hurt that Walker hit a growth spurt after his freshman year, bulking up about 15 pounds.
Walker’s play no doubt has attracted the attention of pro scouts.
“(Walker) was outstanding in the spring,” NFL draft analyst Ryan Roberts posted on Twitter earlier this month. “Really physical and consistent. Nice zone drops. Not a ton of length but kid has a good sense of spacing and processing. Outstanding production on FCS level. Will be an interesting player to watch.”
Having seen Walker grow firsthand, Petrino hasn’t been surprised by the steady flood of accolades. “He has great speed and great natural instincts,” the ninth-year coach said. “He has a chance to be really special.”
His family moved around the country a bit for job opportunities, eventually settling in Walker’s hometown of Dos Palos, Calif., where he spent two high school seasons. Walker posted a 1,000-yard rushing season as a junior running back at Dos Palos High School before a 140-tackle senior campaign at Fresno Central.
Petrino tested the anchor of his defense at running back this spring, and a few times, Walker displayed the same impressive burst that has made him such a threat to opposing ballcarriers. Walker rushed for 26 yards on six attempts, with a long of 14.
Walker had a very good 2021 season statistically, collecting 105 total tackles in 11 games. At 6’1”, 240 pounds, the rookie is the same height & weight as teammate Cole Holcomb, though I’m guessing a little time in an NFL weight room will be required before Walker perfectly mirrors Holcomb’s physique.
Walker’s draft profile
The Draft Network had some nice things to say about Walker
Walker is a well-built, dense linebacker who plays with outstanding physicality and tempo. He is a good athlete overall with good straight-line speed and short-area burst who excels coming downhill and filling at the line of scrimmage. In the run game, Walker displays good eyes, instincts, and awareness. He is quick to read run and comes downhill with very good burst and toughness. He shoots gaps with good timing and is an excellent tackler.
In the passing game, Walker gets good depth in his zone drops and is quick to close on anything in front of him. He has good straight-line speed to stick in man and has good timing at the catch point.
That said, there are reasons why he was available as an undrafted college player.
While there’s a lot to like about Walker, there are some areas of concern. He lacks ideal length and struggles to shed when linemen are able to get inside his pads. Walker is much better moving forward than playing in space, as he shows stiffness when forced to change direction both against the pass and the run.
Overall, Walker is an intriguing linebacker prospect who shows redeeming qualities, especially as a tenacious run defender, but his athletic and physical limitations limit his upside as anything more than a backup, two-down linebacker and core special teamer.
The film room - Frye’s Film breakdown
In this section, we’ll offer a look at the player’s style, skills and limitations in a short film review written by Joshua Frye, who has volunteered to do the heavy lifting in this series. Joshua struggled to find film clips of Walker, so this review is limited to 3 plays. In any event, the effort that goes into these film studies can be enormous, so I hope you’ll appreciate what Joshua is contributing to this series.
Joshua says that, as a Redskins fan, he grew up with a team that wasn’t winning on the field, and that this lack of success made him look for something other than Superbowls to keep him connected. He focused on the draft. So, even from a young age, Josh watched college football, doing his best to evaluate players, and he read extensively — books written by coaches and personnel evaluators. Joshua adds that he would love to become a professional scout someday.
Here, Tre Walker does a good job weaving through the traffic to prevent a first down on this 3rd and 1. You can also see he leaves a good thump too.
Walker is lined up in the middle, on the right side of the defense (#8). I like Walkers ability here to make up for the ground he lost by initially stepping toward the running back on the fake handoff. Walker, when he recognizes that the quarterback has kept the ball, sheds the block of the LT to get to the QB and prevent the TD. It was a very nice recovery.
Here Walker does a nice job picking up the WR on the motion and coming down hill with no regard for his (or the wide receiver’s) well being for a TFL.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find as much film of Walker as I would have liked, so this is a relatively short breakdown. My apologies. But like Drew White, whom we profiled earlier this week, I saw limitations in his game from some sloppy back pedal in coverage and a lack of consistent effectiveness in slipping his way out of blocks.
He does bring excellent instincts and a mean attitude to the ball when he arrives, though. As is true for Drew White and most UDFAs, I also see Walker’s best shot of making the team as trying to earn a roster spot special teams.
How excited are you that Tre Walker was signed by the Commanders?
This poll is closed
5 - Very excited!
4 - Looks good...for a UDFA
3 - I’m okay; let’s wait and see
2 - I’m doubtful about this guy’s prospects
1 - This guy doesn’t belong in an NFL training camp