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Mel Kiper: DeMarcus Walker could be an instant starter

Mel Kiper of ESPN has big expectations of DeMarcus Walker in year one and beyond.

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Florida State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Mel Kiper of ESPN made a list of his early-impact players of 2017 from the second and third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Two of the three Denver Broncos draft picks during those rounds received high praise from Kiper this week.

Broncos second-round pick defensive end DeMarcus Walker had an entire section devoted to him, while wide receiver Carlos Henderson received an honorable mention for his punt return prowess.

Here is what Kiper said about Walker.

DeMarcus Walker, DE, Denver Broncos

Pick: No. 51 (Second round)

Derek Wolfe and Jared Crick took the majority of defensive end snaps in Denver last season -- 2016 second-round pick Adam Gotsis played only 208 snaps -- but I really like Walker, who could be an instant starter. Denver's defense allowed 130.3 rushing yards per game (28th in the league), so upgrades are needed. At the very least, he'll join the rotation and likely start in 2018 as Crick is signed only through the upcoming season.

Walker won't be the pass-rusher he was in college -- he had 16.0 sacks at Florida State last season -- playing end in a 3-4, but I wonder if he could have the impact Malik Jackson had in Denver. A former fifth-round pick, Jackson had 14.0 sacks over three seasons before signing a megadeal with the Jaguars before the 2016 season. I'm sure Walker would take that monster second contract, anyway.

Being a big part of the rotation in year one would be huge as most rookie defensive linemen need a year to get up to NFL-par. Over the course of his four-year contract, we should expect big things from Walker.


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