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Packers Rookie Preview: Quay Walker

Breaking down the film on Packers rookie linebacker Quay Walker.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 31 CFP Semifinal - Capital One Orange Bowl - Georgia v Michigan Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.