Top NFL Draft Prospects: DeMarcus Walker looks to build on breakout season
Senior defensive end for Florida State is out to prove he's a top-50 pick
In preparation for the 2017football season, NFLDraftScout.com will profile the top NFL draft-eligible prospects with a different player profile each day. The series will culminate with the preseason top-20 prospects in August.
The Seminoles lose several defensive playmakers from last year's squad, but return two potential All-Americans with Walker and safety Derwin James. Although James isn't eligible until the 2018 NFL Draft as a true sophomore, Walker is a senior leader and returned to school for several reasons, among them to prove he deserves a spot in the top-50 picks. He had a breakout season as a junior last year with a team-best 15.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks and four forced fumbles, sharing the team's Defensive MVP award with Jalen Ramsey.
Walker is shorter than most at his position, but he certainly isn't small with a thick, burly build and the core strength needed to control the point of attack. He uses his low center of gravity to hold his ground, work off contact and quickly reset his eyes to find the football. Walker sets a hard edge in the run game with his aggressive hands, filtering the ballcarrier inside. As a pass rusher, he relies on his handwork to engage while dipping and winning the corner with leverage, keeping his momentum going strong after his initial move. Walker is a very alert player and knows how to get his hands on the football, evidence by his four forced fumbles (team-high) and six passes defended (second-best on the team) last season.
While a very strong player in the run game, Walker needs to better translate that power as a pass rusher to generate consistent movement off the edge. He is a one-speed athlete and lacks the burst or loose change of direction skills to beat blockers on athleticism alone. Walker plays with a relentless mindset, but tends to wear himself out and needs to better control his motor and eliminate sloppy plays.
Walker took a sizeable jump in his development as a junior and with only one season of top-tier production, NFL scouts are eager to see what improvements he will make as a senior. If a team is in search for a twitchy, explosive edge rusher, Walker doesn't fit that profile. But with his heavy hands and contact balance, Walker has a well-rounded skill-set that should help him compete for starting snaps in the NFL as a base end.
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