Pro Football Focus, however, wasn’t one of those media outlets.
PFF thinks Walker, who turns 22 later this month, is one of the favorites to be named the 2022 NFL defensive rookie of the year.
They have Walker with the fourth-best odds (+800) to win defensive rookie of the year honors, behind New York Giants edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, Detroit Lions edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson, and New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner.
Walker checks all the measurable boxes that teams are looking for in an NFL linebacker. He’s 6-foot-4, 242 pounds with speed (4.52-second 40-yard dash) and change-of-direction ability (6.89-second three-cone). He’s also one of the best tacklers in the class — an area where recent rookie disappointments at the position have struggled. Walker’s combination of length, athleticism and a clean medical sheet is why he went two rounds higher than teammate Nakobe Dean despite not having close to the same production profile in his college career.
The opportunity will be there for him to make an impact on a defense that already has stars at all three levels. That should push him toward the top of the Defensive Rookie of the Year list.
Walker probably would’ve lasted a bit longer in the draft if Green Bay didn’t select him at No. 22.
But the Packers saw something they loved in the former Georgia standout. They clearly feel as though Walker can be a key cog in their defense for years to come.
If Walker finishes the season as a top rookie of the year candidate like PFF is predicting, the Packers’ “reach” for Walker will be vindicated.
Featured image via MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL via Imagn Content Services