LB Anthony Walker Jr., Northwestern*

6’1” – 238 lbs. – 4.65

Started seven games as a redshirt freshman, then all of the past two seasons before deciding to forego his senior season. Something of a short-limbed linebacker who will probably be limited to playing on the inside at the next level; height is adequate, with a muscular build. An aggressive, high-motor player who likes to play downhill but can also handle man and zone coverage responsibilities; high football character on the field is supposedly accompanied by strong leadership skills and personal character. Pretty athletic with good overall movement skills and some explosiveness to his game; willing and able to pursue sideline-to-sideline. Doesn’t shy away from taking on blocks and exhibits active hands to shed. Likes to get physical with opponents and help set the tone defensively; won’t turn down an opportunity to get involved. Has the skillset to potentially contribute as a three-down linebacker. Frame and athletic profile are suitable for carrying running backs out of the backfield in coverage. Often asked to sit in short zones and take responsibility for crossing receivers or tight ends. Appears to have solid footwork and balance on his drops. Can get out to the sidelines to defend against screens. Broke up a lot of passes but doesn’t have reliable hands to secure the interception. As a spy, closes fast on opposing passers when they flee the pocket. Also takes some occasional snaps as a blitzer. Instincts are off; often neutralizes himself by taking false steps and being caught out of position. Not patient enough and often ends up barreling into blockers, letting them into his body, and taking himself out of the play. Angles are too aggressive and creates difficulties for himself by not respecting an opponent’s speed. Doesn’t seem to have a very good feel for coverage. Has some trouble working through congestion; will get knocked off-balance by blockers as he attempts to flow to the ball. Looks better in a straight line than when changing directions. Length limits his tackling radius; missed an alarming nineteen tackles last year. Looks like a mid-round pick who has the intangibles and temperament teams like in their inside linebackers, and whose athleticism and build are commensurate with the requirements of the pro game, but whose instincts, angles, and aggressiveness take him out of too many plays to count on. Those issues, when considered in combination with his leaky tackling, will probably relegate him to more of a backup role.

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