The Green Bay Packers have a brand new class of rookies, led by the 22nd overall pick in former Georgia linebacker Quay Walker.
Throughout this offseason, we will be taking a look at each of Green Bay’s draft picks, breaking down the film to see what these rookies can bring to the table for the 2022 season.
Walker comes into the league after playing for one of the most dominant defenses in college football history with the Georgia Bulldogs. At nearly 6’4” and 241 pounds, Walker has terrific size for an off-ball linebacker, and his 9.63 Relative Athletic Score (RAS) highlights his impressive athleticism.
Quay Walker was drafted with pick 22 of round 1 in the 2022 draft class. He scored a 9.63 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 91 out of 2419 LB from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/sa63TqMMZs #RAS #Packers pic.twitter.com/Rin2Zh0nFS— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 29, 2022
That size and athleticism were big reasons why Walker was selected ahead of his fellow Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean despite less production at the college level. Packers fans could be understandably nervous after taking a less productive linebacker in the first round, but the film shows a player that was absolutely worth taking a chance on with the 22nd overall pick.
The biggest thing that immediately stood out on tape with Walker is his instincts. The Bulldogs linebacker did a great job of trusting his eyes, reading his keys, and breaking towards the play almost instantaneously.
This play against South Carolina is a great example of Walker’s instincts, along with his size and athleticism to run down the ball carrier and wrap him up.
This is a WOW play for me.— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) May 1, 2022
Lots going on with the OL, but Walker sticks to his key on the RB and is able to get to him on the sideline.
That size is gonna make him a tough guy to break tackles on. pic.twitter.com/F7vKhluBo7
This play against Florida is another good example. After reading his keys and flowing play side, the first-round pick quickly recognized a rushing lane opening up. He sees the quarterback is the ball carrier and is cutting back, so he quickly closes and fills the run lane to blow up the play, laying a pretty good hit on the QB in the process.
I understand why teams were so much higher on Quay Walker than the consensus boards were.— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) May 1, 2022
He reads his keys so well and has a great feel for everything developing in front of him. pic.twitter.com/RLGZhPkEOe
With his size, Walker has no problem delivering some force into his tackle attempts. He doesn’t tend to miss many tackles either, as his 4.3 percent missed tackle rate was one of the lowest rates in college football last year according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
The play strength and aggressiveness were on display in Walker’s tackle attempt against Florida’s Dameon Pierce, who was one of the top running back prospects in this year’s draft. He was also one of my bullies of this draft class as easily the most violent runner of the incoming rookies. Walker didn’t seem too concerned about who he was trying to hit, however.
That's Quay Walker off the backside thumping the most physical RB in this year's draft class (Dameon Pierce) pic.twitter.com/RhlafP3V5F— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) May 1, 2022
This kind of skill set could make Walker an appealing option for defensive coordinator Joe Barry to utilize as a blitzer. The Packers have been known in recent years for their creative fronts, especially on third down, in order to get their best players on the field to rush the passer.
Something like this place against South Carolina could be a great way to use Walker to attack the quarterback. The Bulldogs ran this play with five stand-up defenders pre-snap, including linebacker Nakoba Dean head up over the center. Walker, who was not lined up on the line of scrimmage, blitzes from depth and throws off South Carolina’s protection, allowing him to be a free rusher.
This is a blitz design I could see the Packers using with Quay.— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) May 1, 2022
Five guys standing up front. LB over the center. Walker blitzing from depth. pic.twitter.com/mNLkX956hh
The Packers could do something similar, with either De’Vondre Campbell over the center or an edge rusher like Rashan Gary or the rookie Kingsley Enagbare.
Green Bay found itself a talented off-ball linebacker to pair with Campbell, and a logical mentor given the rookie’s size and athletic profile. If the first-round pick can develop quickly, then the Packers could find themselves having one of the best linebacker duos in the league for the coming seasons.