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Packers Film Study: Quay Walker’s strong Week 15 performance

Breaking down Quay Walker’s game against the Rams.

Los Angeles Rams v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers still have more questions than answers on defense, but rookie linebacker Quay Walker showed flashes of why he was drafted in the first round against the Los Angeles Rams.

Walker was one of the team’s most productive defenders in the 24-12 win on Monday Night Football. The 22-year-old finished with five solo tackles, one sack, a forced fumble, and a pair of pass deflections. Pro Football Focus also listed Walker as the team’s highest-graded defender in the game, posting an impressive 87.0 overall grade.

While there are still some things that he needs to clean up, the film showed an explosive, and sometimes decisive, off-ball linebacker with serious potential.

One of Walker’s biggest problems earlier in his rookie season has been hesitancy when reading his keys. However, when he’s comfortable with what he sees and is able to aggressively attack downhill, the first-round linebacker can wreak havoc in the backfield.

The 6’4”, 240-pound linebacker is also able to use his size and explosiveness when rushing the passer as a blitzer. While he hasn’t been able to cleanly get to the quarterback before, Walker was able to get his first solo sack on Monday by showing an impressive ability to bend after attacking downhill at full speed around the edge.

Walker also did a much better job in pass coverage than he has in the past. At times, the rookie has gotten caught drifting out of his zone, or leaving his assignment, based on where the quarterback was looking. That wasn’t the case (most of the time) on Monday, with Walker doing a good job of staying with his assignments and breaking downhill as the pass was being thrown.

In fact, on two different coverage plays where Walker stayed disciplined, he almost made ridiculous interceptions thanks to his impressive athleticism.

It’s always worth mentioning what a player can clean up, especially with a rookie. For as impressive as a couple of pass-coverage reps were from Walker, he also got caught biting on the pump fake.

With Walker’s responsibility being the middle of the field, the rookie got caught staring at Mayfield and attacked where he thought the quarterback was throwing and vacated the middle of the field. Fortunately, the Packers were saved on the play because of a drop.

Against the run, Walker still has troubles with scraping and holding outside contain, particularly against gap scheme run concepts. With pullers coming across the formation, Walker needs to do a better job of engaging blocks while keeping his outside shoulder free in order to force running backs to take a wider angle and prevent them from creating explosive runs.

Still, considering where Walker started this season, the progress and development was on display on Monday night. If he can continue to work on the finer points of the position, then Walker could become a dominant linebacker in 2023 and beyond.