Yet another stud from the nation’s best defense, Georgia’s Quay Walker enters the 2022 NFL draft as one of the most promising linebacker prospects in this year’s class.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Bulldogs’ versatile defender:
40 time: 4.52
When you look at Walker’s tape, it’s easy to forget his massive frame because of how smooth and quick he looks on the field. In 2021, he was part of an elite linebacker trio, and he may have been the best of them, putting up 63 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and breaking up two passes. He’s a versatile defender who can fly across the field, stuff the run, or rush the passer.
An unique athlete for the position, Walker brings the skill, versatility, and athleticism to be an impact player at either inside or outside linebacker.
Walker excels most in coverage, with the range and speed to hang with running backs and tight ends consistently. He’s quick to get into the correct zone, to glide in and make tackles on screens and short passes. Walker is smooth when changing direction, with fluid hips and excellent burst to trail and shadow tight ends and backs alike. His backpedal off of pass recognition is impressive, quickly gaining depth and understanding what zone he should be in, knowing where and how to play it. He has the ability to jump in and make a play on receivers on crossing routes, and the hand usage to disrupt the pass when it comes his way.
Against the run, Walker plays with live feet, and keeps his eyes in the backfield, quick to recognize the runner’s intentions and explode into the intended gap. He’s quick to shoot to the edge and create seals on outside runs, and has little problem making tackles as he squares up and uses proper form.
There are times where Walker can get eaten up if a lineman gets his hands on him, and he doesn’t have the play strength his size would indicate, which would allow him to get away from those blocks. He should be able to add strength once he gets to the NFL, but he’ll need to find quick escape plans, and weave his way through blocks more consistently at the next level.
Walker can also get caught up in pursuit and take incorrect angles, or overshoot his intended tackle. He’ll need to be more consistent in recognizing the correct routes to the ball carrier, and NFL coaches will be happy to oblige with that training. He has shown immense growth during his time in Athens, and seems to take coaching well, so this should be corrected early.
Walker has outstanding size, speed, and athleticism, and the ability to play any linebacker spot at the next level. He’s shown marked improvement every year in college, which bodes well for his ability to maximize those physical traits with NFL coaching. Walker is reliable and consistent, and his best fit will probably be at inside linebacker, where he can diagnose and attack from a multitude of angles. If he doesn’t go in the first round, he won’t have to wait long on Day 2.
Projection: Top 50