In a few years, we may look back at the 2021 Georgia Bulldogs defense as a historic unit. There are legitimate NFL starters on every level, but one of the more underrated 2022 NFL Draft scouting reports belongs to Georgia ILB Quay Walker. Walker doesn’t have the most name recognition of his Georgia peers, but he could go on to be one of the more dynamic players in the NFL.
Quay Walker NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Linebacker
- School: Georgia
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 240 pounds
Quay Walker Scouting Report
Georgia’s 2021 dominance has not been an accident. The Bulldogs allowed less than 100 total points in 12 regular-season games. Much of the credit can go to defensive coordinator Dan Lanning, whose expertise has earned him a head coaching job with Oregon in 2022. But even more of the credit goes to the vast array of NFL talent along the entire depth chart.
In particular, the linebacking core for Georgia generates a lot of buzz. Butkus Award winner and leading tackler Nakobe Dean, who’s arguably the nation’s top linebacker in the draft, has the most appeal. But there are other NFL-caliber talents alongside him as well. Walker fits a unique mold at the LB position, but he has a lot of potential as an NFL Draft prospect.
Quay Walker’s athletic profile
Standing at 6’4″, 240 pounds, Walker truly looks like an edge rusher playing off-ball linebacker. Nevertheless, there are times where you have to remind yourself how big he is because he moves exceptionally well for his size. Walker flashes high-end explosiveness out of his stance, and he’s a well-put-together NFL athlete. He’s an explosive, smooth lateral mover who can traverse gaps with ease. Once he’s in position, Walker swallows up running backs with his large frame.
For how big he is, Walker can sink his hips fairly well into direction changes. He’s not overly stiff and is a subtly twitchy mover who understands micro-movements and leverage when using space. The Georgia ILB has the size and athleticism to blanket tight ends off the line of scrimmage, but he also has enough play strength to stay on his feet and absorb power against linemen.
Walker’s play strength is another factor that separates him from other linebackers. He undoubtedly has the size and strength to take on offensive linemen at the second level. The Georgia ILB latches onto opposing linemen’s pads, then rips down anchors with violent force.
Additionally, when Walker gets clean, his length allows him to make plays in close pursuit and secure challenging tackles. He also flashes impressive range for his size when he’s running at full speed.
Execution beyond the physical traits
Walker’s physical profile is one of the most enthralling parts of his game, but the Georgia ILB provides a lot more value beyond that. He’s underrated in his operational utility. Most notably, Walker has good eyes at the second level. He follows the ball well and effectively positions himself in space, minimizing cushion. Walker also actively keys in on the quarterback’s eyes, and thanks to his length and lateral burst, he can close windows quickly.
Going further, Walker can quickly identify blocking angles and position himself to clog gaps. He can also identify screens based on line movement and fade out to the flat. In congestion, Walker is willing to occupy blockers and allow teammates to seep in. He’s a physical player who can lower his shoulder and carry momentum and force into blocks. When blocked, Walker has a fighter’s mentality. He disengages and swarms ball carriers, and he can also adjust his leverage to gain half-man relationships and wall off runners in space.
More often than not, Walker takes good angles to the football and stops runners in their tracks with his dense frame. He’s able to square up well as a tackler, and his length makes him difficult to evade. Walker can quicken his feet and keep his balance when blockers try to go low and chip him. His lateral agility allows him to keep his positioning as plays develop.
Among other things, Walker knows when to pass off receivers and clamp down on underneath routes in coverage, showing good awareness and processing ability. Additionally, his combination of size and explosiveness makes him a dangerous blitzer with high pass-rush potential.
Areas for improvement
As athletic as Walker is, he can still work to improve his efficiency of motion. He can be a clunky mover in space at times, and his footwork can be staggered and heavy. More often than not, he moves in short bursts and can be a little smoother overall.
Walker can sometimes get flat-footed, which impacts his ability to spring out of his stance. He has great explosiveness, but he can better play to that explosive capacity more often. Moreover, Walker doesn’t have elite hip fluidity. His frame is a bit high-cut, and his hip transitions can be a bit leggy as a result. He sometimes struggles to quickly flip his hips to the sideline, although improving his efficiency of motion can help.
Moving forward, Walker occasionally gets caught by misdirections and is funneled out of plays. He doesn’t have elite long speed in pursuit, either. He has some range, but he’s better in shorter areas. Walker can over-pursue as a blitzer, and he struggles to use targeted physicality with his athleticism on those reps. The Georgia ILB still has room to improve his hands as a pass rusher. He can better leverage his explosiveness into force by using his length as a conduit. Without improvement, he may struggle to disengage.
Finally, in coverage, Walker doesn’t quite have the speed to trail certain receivers downfield. On top of that, he sometimes gets too grabby and physical when trying to match pass catchers, drawing penalties.
Quay Walker’s 2022 NFL Draft scouting report overview
Dean gets all the hype — and with good reason — but Walker is a high-level NFL Draft prospect in his own right. He’s stone-faced and all-business in interviews, but Walker comes alive on the field. He sports great straight-line explosiveness and play strength with his 6’4″, 240-pound frame.
But beyond the cosmetic factors, Walker does a lot of the little things right, too. He processes and positions himself well, quickly recognizes routes and play concepts, and triggers on plays with violent physicality.
Walker is still learning to channel his traits with more consistency. He can also become a better playmaker on passing downs — both as a coverage player and pass rusher. But the bedrock traits are there. With his lateral burst and length, he covers a lot of ground in the short and intermediate ranges. His size-explosiveness combo gives him dangerous pass-rushing potential once he refines his hand usage.
There’s still work to be done before he gets to this point, especially as a pass rusher. But at his peak projection, Walker can be an Anthony Barr-type of player for a defense. He’s a mismatch against tight ends with his size and athleticism, but he can also clog lanes and chase down ball carriers in the box. Walker can be a versatile, tone-setting playmaker for defensive coordinators.
Quay Walker’s Player Profile
When you’re Georgia, you get the best of the best — no questions asked. Georgia’s long-standing track record as a hotbed for NFL-caliber defensive players makes it a constant landing spot for four- and five-star recruits.
Walker joined the wave in 2018. The future Georgia ILB was a four-star recruit in his class, ranked 73rd overall on ESPN’s board. The star prospect fielded offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU, and Oregon, among others. But in the end, the Cordele, Georgia, product chose to stay in-state and join the Bulldogs.
Walker’s career at Georgia
Despite his high billing as a recruit, Walker didn’t walk into a starting job. But that never bothered the Georgia ILB. As a true freshman, he won Special Teams Newcomer of the Year for his team, earning 6 total stops in his initial college football action.
After his true freshman showing, Walker’s role would slowly grow. In 2019, the Georgia ILB logged 23 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks. In 2020, after earning Most Improved honors the previous year, Walker upped his total tackles to 43 and added 2 tackles for loss and a sack.
Walker was draft eligible in 2020 but opted to return for his senior season. It was then that he’d embark on his best campaign yet. Walker started all 14 games ahead of the national championship, amassing 57 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 3 deflections, and a fumble recovery along the way.
Quay Walker’s 2022 NFL Draft ascension
With his 2021 tape, Walker grades as a potential Day 2 pick. If he tests well, that projection will only go up. The physical tools are enticing with Walker, but there aren’t any glaring red flags, either. He has good eyes and processing ability, and he acts on the information he takes in with aggression. There’s still room for development in a few phases, but the ceiling is high.
Walker’s Senior Bowl showing will be another big part of solidifying his stock. If Walker can stick with tight ends in space in 1-on-1’s, and dominate blocking drills against offensive players with his size and physicality, he can win over NFL evaluators and earn a selection within the top 50 picks. From there, Walker has the talent to be a dynamic player.
Tony Pauline’s scouting report for Quay Walker
Positives: Athletic linebacker with a three-down game. Breaks down well, effectively uses his hands to protect himself, and makes a lot of plays in space. Slides off blocks to get to the action, covers a tremendous amount of area on the field, and shows speed in pursuit.
Quickly gets into space to make the tackle on screen passes, gets outstanding depth on pass drops, and smoothly changes direction. Stays with assignments, plays heads-up football, and battles to make plays. Gives effort defending the run and fires upfield on the blitz.
Negatives: Does not always take proper angles and overruns plays. Not a stout linebacker. Gets caught up in the trash.
Analysis: Walker is an athletic linebacker who showed a lot of progress in his game the past two seasons and comes with a large upside. He possesses skill, versatility, and the athleticism to be used at inside or outside linebacker. Walker possesses tremendous upside and has the tools to develop into a starting three-down linebacker on Sundays.