D’Andre Walker, a four-star defensive end from Langston Hughes High School in Fairburn signed with Georgia on Wednesday after committing in January. Although he played defensive end in high school, he is predicted to shift to outside linebacker due to his speed and quickness. Though he has the speed, he certainly has some work to do in regards to his physical frame if he wants to make a difference in the Southeastern Conference.
Strengths: The first thing that jumps out from Walker is his ability to get off the line with remarkable quickness. His initial burst and first step are top-tier, as well as his closing speed. With the current frame he has of being very long, lean and wiry, he is great at dipping under shoulders and ripping through linemen. Walker uses his hands very actively and has very quick hands to shed. Walker shows a very high level of football knowledge, being able to recognize blocking patterns very quickly. Aside from being a great pass-rusher, Walker shows he has a good angle of pursuit in the running game, which will be especially important in his shift to outside linebacker. Walker also has quick lateral movement and has shown the ability to wrap up well and finish tackles.
Weaknesses: Wherever Walker plays next year, he will need to add a lot of weight to his frame. He is 6-foot-3 and 209 pounds, smaller than the average pass-rushing linebackers of roughly 235 pounds. He draws some comparisons to Lorenzo Carter as far as frame, although Carter was already bigger at the time of his commitment (6-5,230). His added strength may also address one of his other weak points, which is shedding blocks. He currently relies on getting to the backfield due to his speed and struggled when he did not beat the offensive lineman off the snap. Although he has great hand quickness, he does not yet have the upper body strength to match his quick hands.
Final Thoughts: Walker looks to have tremendous upside if he can add some size and strength. He already has the pass-rushing skills, now he just needs the body to go with it. With the experience ahead of him – Carter and Leonard Floyd – Walker will have the ability to learn from two great pass-rushers and have time to bulk up. However, if Walker cannot add size, he may struggle. Currently relying too much on his sheer speed and quickness, offensive linemen will be able to hold him in place if he cannot beat them off the snap.