In the 2017 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected ACC Defensive Player of the Year and prolific sack artist DeMarcus Walker out of Florida State in the second round. It was a pick many fans across Broncos Country were excited about — with many hoping he could make an impact and bolster the franchise’s pass rush in his rookie year.
Name: DeMarcus Walker
Position: Defensive End
Experience: 2nd season
College: Florida State
Unfortunately, that never happened and his rookie season was essentially wasted when he was moved to outside linebacker in lieu of the handful of injuries and lack of depth the Broncos had at the position. In ten games, Walker played only ten percent of the team’s total defensive snaps. In that limited action, he registered just seven tackles and one sack. It was a big let down for the former Seminole, but he is excited to be back where he should have been all along and hopes to a make an impact in his second year.
#AskMase: Which player from the 2017 #BroncosDraft class is most likely to make a big jump in Year Two?— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) July 6, 2018
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Walker is known for being a high effort player with tremendous production. He was one of collegiate football’s most productive pass rushers (26.5 sacks) in his final two years at Florida State, often racking up sacks when winning one-on-one battles when moving inside to rush. He was regarded as a team leader and someone who could be relied on — playing nearly 90 percent of the Seminoles’ defensive snaps as a senior. He has a great first step and a quality swim move that helps him get past offensive lineman en-route to the quarterback.
Even though he had impeccable production in college, Walker is only an average athlete for the position and have difficulty getting a consistent rush from the outside in the pros. He struggled on a handful of occasions in the team’s preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings in respect to taking on double teams and was pushed back at the point of attack in the run game. May not be ever be a full-time defensive end in the league, and will likely earn his keep by being able to win one-on-one battles when he kicks inside to rush the passer.
“He’s gotten better. He’s probably 280-285 (pounds), so he’s gotten his weight up and he’s playing good football. He’s been consistent. Again, the games will tell a story there. Obviously, live football and taking double team blocks on is going to be big for him with his size difference, as far as being a d-lineman for us. We’ll see.” — Head Coach Vance Joseph on DeMarcus Walker’s progress
After having his rookie season essentially wasted with a questionable move to outside linebacker, Walker is now back to where he should have been all last season at defensive end. He has been rotating first-team reps at the starting end spot opposite of veteran Derek Wolfe. I believe he will see a good amount of snaps in his second season at the position, but expect him to make most of his presence known when slides inside and generate a pass rush on the interior, just like he did while he was at Florida State.