The Denver Broncos have made their second selection of the 2017 NFL Draft, and after addressing their biggest need position on the offensive line, they addressed the other side of the trenches by adding defensive end DeMarcus Walker out of Florida State.
Walker is a highly productive pass rusher who amassed 45 tackles for loss and 28.5 sacks in his career in addition to 8 forced fumbles, leading him to become a consensus All-American and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Most of those impressive stats came in his last two seasons at FSU where he was one of the ACC’s best at rushing the passer.
Here’s Walker’s scouting report after having watched extensive tape on him throughout his career.
- Walker is a quick twitch lineman at 280-pounds who has a nasty inside swim move that’ll leave opposing blockers in the dust.
- His greatest asset is his ability to create inside pass rush with his electric first step.
- Walker also stands out for the relentlessness in his pursuit of the quarterback as he’s able to often get sacks or tackles for a loss on pursuit alone by chasing down QBs who hold onto the ball too long.
- He shows good hand usage when taking on blockers, one of his best assets as an inside penetrator.
- He’s shown flashes of athleticism to defend on the perimeter where he can run down plays and not allow them to win the edge. The athleticism is there with his 4.76 speed to win in those situations.
- His quickness and get-off at the snap allow him to penetrate and make plays against the run.
- Walker is a bit of a tweener as he doesn’t have the explosiveness of a true edge rusher and is a bit small to play as an inside lineman. He also isn’t very long and has a boxy frame.
- In the Broncos scheme, he’ll likely have to play defensive end in a three-man front, that’ll require adding some weight as he’d be best at 290 pounds.
- On tape, Walker struggles against the run, an area Denver needs to improve in. He’s slow on the edge and will get beat by athletic playmakers who can easily beat him to the edge and create big plays.
- His ability to shake stronger blockers when he doesn’t win off his first step is a struggle at times as he lacks power. Had only 18 bench press reps at the combine.
- Walker struggles to create push on bull rushes and isn’t always able to hold up against the run when lined up inside.
- His tape against Evan Engram in which he’s getting blocked 10 yards downfield is truly eye-opening.
How he fits
Walker is a highly productive collegiate player who comes from a top program and instantly becomes a weapon as a situational pass rusher on the inside. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s used in the Broncos system as he could at times play as a stand-up edge but is most likely to play inside for Denver, where he’s best rushing the passer. He’ll have to add weight and become more powerful against the run to play as a true 5-technique end.
Walker’s selection’s a bit surprising after having taken Adam Gotsis in the second round next year. His first step and pass rushing ability could complement Gotsis’ power in the run game nicely, forming a high-level rotation.
While he doesn’t upgrade the defense’s biggest need in defending the run he could bring back the interior pass rush that’s been missing in Denver since Malik Jackson’s departure.