DeMarcus Walker’s key skills for quick transition to the NFL
Denver Broncos rookie defensive lineman DeMarcus Walker may not be a perfect prospect, but he has key tools that will help him earn trust as a rookie…
The Denver Broncos made DeMarcus Walker their second round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft after an amazing career at Florida State, where he was one of the most productive defensive linemen in the country.
Walker’s ability to play all over the line and explode into the backfield to disrupt plays helped him fill up the stat sheet with tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, and forced fumbles. But even considering his phenomenal production, it’s more than just Walker’s statistics in college that make him a great fit for this team, and this defense specifically.
Teammate Zach Kerr, a free agent acquisition from the Indianapolis Colts, spoke about Walker at OTAs, and his first impressions of the rookie.
"“He’s quick, really quick. Quick twitch. Really good at rushing the passer. He knows his stuff. I like him a lot. He’s one of those guys—he’s a rookie that comes in and you can tell he’s ready to work. He’s ready to learn. He’s going to continue to get better. I like him a lot. He’s a really good player.”DL Zach Kerr (quotes obtained via Denver Broncos PR)"
Walker’s quickness off the snap from the defensive interior is only a small part of what makes him so special as a player. He has his deficiencies, namely right now he lacks the size to be a full-time starter at any singular position within an NFL defense. He’s not a traditional edge-bending pass rusher. He’s not specifically one type of defensive lineman in general, really.
What DeMarcus Walker is going to do that will set him apart from others is what Kerr alluded to in the quote above. He has already made the impression on his teammates that he’s ready to come in and get to work.
For Walker, preparation is equally important as production.
Why was he productive at Florida State? Because going into each and every game, he knew every team’s greatest weakness, and he knew how to exploit it. The difficulty level will be significantly different in the NFL, but if Walker’s preparation mentality remains the same, he will have early success at the next level.
At Florida State, Walker’s teammates and coaches praised his diligence in preparation, honing his skills, and becoming the player that made him a high draft pick.
Through less than two months, he’s already making the same impression with the Denver Broncos.
Walker is the type of player who has the personality of an NFL athlete. He never settles.
It may sound overly simple, but players who settle for their natural talent rarely make it, if ever. Players who excel in the NFL work harder than the rest, and Walker is that type of person who will almost draw strange looks for his preparation off the field.
According to a piece on ESPN, Walker’s preparation extended beyond just film study, though teammate Freddie Stevenson said he’s never seen anyone watch film the way Walker does.
"“I’ve never seen anyone study film the way he does,” Stevenson said. “The details he puts into it; he’s focusing on so many different things.”"
In the same piece at ESPN, they talk about how Walker entered 2016 playing almost every snap to start the season. One of the knocks on Walker in pre-draft evaluations was that he wore down as the game wore along. That would make sense if he had never played all the snaps before, and Walker noticed it himself right away.
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During the season, he adjusted his diet and ‘leaned back on’ his yoga training, where he focused more on ‘regulated’ breathing and core strength.
It’s that type of attention to detail that will make Walker an impactful player right away as a rookie. The Broncos are obviously deep on the defensive line this year, but there will be a place for Walker. With a reduced workload from what he had this past year at Florida State, Walker’s freshness and preparedness will be valuable assets to an already stacked defensive front with the Broncos.