Can a team have too much talent?
Obviously the answer to that is “of course not”, especially when it’s your team. But some college teams can struggle to find playing time for all of their players. That, in turn, can make it so even talented prospects can slip through the cracks.
That may be what’s happened to Georgia linebacker Quay Walker. There were just so many stud defenders on Georgia’s National Championship team that it’s tough for all of them to stand out. Likewise, it was tough for Kirby Smart to keep all of his great defenders on the field. Rotations helped keep all of Smart’s defenders fresh through games, but it also made it tough for some of those defenders to stand out.
Linebacker Quay Walker hasn’t gotten the same recognition as some of his teammates, but he would likely be a stand-out prospect in some other years.
Walker has good size, great athleticism, football IQ, and versatility. He can drop into coverage, defend the run with authority, and be a disruptive blitzer.
All of that could put him on the radar for the perpetually linebacker-needy New York Giants.
Prospect: Quay Walker (7)
Games Watched: vs. Clemson (2021), vs. Arkansas (2021), vs. Auburn (2021), vs. Alabama (2021 SEC Championship)
Games Played: 37
Tackles For a loss: 11.0
Passes Defensed: 3
Games Played: 13
Tackles For a loss: 5.5
Passes Defensed: 3
Best: Athleticism, play strength, versatility, mental processing, pass rush
Projection: A starting or important rotational linebacker in a blitz-heavy defense.
Georgia’s Quay Walker is a smart, athletic, and versatile linebacker prospect.
Walker has a lean, versatile frame at 6-foot 3 ¾ inches and carries his 241 pounds well. Georgia rotated their linebackers frequently, and Walker played every linebacker alignment for the Bulldogs’ defense. He primarily lined up as an off-ball linebacker, usually a MIKE or SAM linebacker, though he also played WILL and some EDGE as well. Walker was used on all three downs and in every situation, dropping into coverage, coming up to play the run, and as a pass rusher.
Walker gets good depth in his zone drops and quickly hits his landmarks as a pass defender. He moves easily in space, has solid range, and enough athleticism to run with all but the most athletic tight ends and running backs. Walker also does a very good job of keeping his eyes in the backfield and reading the quarterback’s eyes.
Walker diagnoses runs well from the second level and has a quick trigger downhill. He commits quickly, fires downhill with little hesitation, and plays with plenty of aggression. Walker does a good job of taking on all blockers and has much more play strength than his frame would suggest. He is fully capable of stacking and shedding offensive linemen and frequently meets them with enough force to jolt guards back several steps. Walker is often too much for tight ends to block one on one, and he shows good improvement in using his hands to defeat cut blocks from running backs.
He is a reliable tackler who generally uses good form, wrapping ball carriers up to prevent yards after contact. Walker usually takes good angles to the ball and positions himself well in space.
Walker was a frequent blitzer in Georgia’s defense. He was asked to rush on the interior as an inside linebacker as well as off the edge, occasionally as a true EDGE defender. Walker’s athleticism allowed him to “sugar” interior gaps, helping to disguise coverages and blitz packages. He also has great vision as a rusher, allowing him to find and exploit free rushing lanes, while his play strength allows him to take on linemen and create rushing lanes for his teammates.
While Walker is a smart, athletic, and versatile defender, he rarely produced truly game-changing plays. He wasn’t credited with any turnovers (forced fumbles or interceptions) while at Georgia and only has 5.0 sacks in his four years. That could be due to the fact that while Walker is physical and aggressive taking on blockers, he isn’t quite as aggressive at the catch point or when making tackles. Instead he seems to play it safer and prefers to get the ball carrier on the ground as opposed to trying to make the big play.
Walker also shows some slight stiffness when opening his hips. That can impact his change of direction at speed and in tight areas.
Overall Grade: 7.7
Georgia’s Quay Walker projects as a starting linebacker at the NFL level. Walker has the potential to find a role in almost any NFL defense. He has experience as a coverage linebacker, playing the run, and rushing the passer.
He was used as an inside linebacker, an outside linebacker, and even saw some usage as an EDGE defender. Walker could be played as an off-ball linebacker, developed as a MIKE linebacker, or moved around the defensive formation in a “multiple” defense.
In particular, defenses that use aggressive blitz packages should be very interested in what Walker brings to the table. He has enough athleticism to effectively play in space, allowing defenses to disguise their blitz packages, while also being an effective pass rusher in his own right.
Walker does show some slight lower-body stiffness and might struggle in tight coverage at the NFL level. That could lead some teams to view him as more of a rotational player, subbing him off the field for a defensive back in some situations. That said, Walker’s versatility and well-rounded game should make him a valuable contributor for any number of defenses in the NFL.