(Photo credited to Seminoles.com)
On Wednesday, ESPN draft expert, Todd McShay released his latest first round mock draft. McShay had the Carolina Panthers selecting powerful LSU running back Leonard Fournette at number eighth overall.
Carolina has two second round picks because of their trade with the New England Patriots last week and McShay thinks Florida State defensive end DeMarcus Walker could be on the Panthers radar.
“I really like his tape,” McShay said on a conference call with media members on Wednesday. “He got some stiffness. He’s not polished and the most ideal in terms of size, but his hands and his motor and understand of opponent’s tendency…..He just understands how to be a pass rusher. Some guys get it, and some guys don’t, and he has taught himself.”
In his senior season at Florida State, Walker finished the year with 68 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, three forced fumbles two fumble recoveries and a block extra point at Miami that won the game 20-19 for the Seminoles last October. For his efforts, Walker was named 2016 ACC Defensive Player of the Year and was a consensus All-American.
Despite his stellar career where Walker logged 26.5 sacks in his last two seasons, they’re still a lot of questions about how efficient he can be at the NFL level. Many scouts have questioned Walker’s upper-body strength and his ability to stop the run. This is what Lance Zierlein of NFL.com had to say about Walker in his prospect review.
“Walker’s sack totals are impressive, but he’s not the type of “early win” sack artist that generally post those types of numbers,” Zierlein said. “He’s a base end with power to hold up at the point, but better suited to reduce inside as interior rusher on passing downs. Walker lacks the desired size and physical traits teams look for off the edge; a move to three-technique isn’t out of the question.”
During the NFL combine. Walker measured in at 6-3 5/8 and 280 pounds with 10 ½ hands, 33 arm length and a 79 5/8 wingspan. While some scouts see Walker as a 3-4 outside linebacker, some have said he is a situational pass rusher. Wherever he lands, McShay believes he will play in the league for a long time.
“I quizzed him about the tendency of the Michigan offensive linemen the day before or two days before when we met with him (at the Orange Bowl) and he knew little nuance things that most defensive linemen that I’ve talked to don’t talk about,” McShay said. “He doesn’t have ideal measurable and all that stuff, but I think he will wind up having a good career.”
Defensive tackle is also an area of need for the Panthers and McShay mentions Jaleel Johnson (Iowa), Carlos Watkins (Clemson) and Montravius Adams (Auburn) as options if the Panthers decide to address that with one of their two second-round picks (number 40 and 64). McShay also had some other options for the Panthers at defensive end.
“Jordan Wills, Kansas State was good on tape, great at the Senior Bowl, great at his combine workout,” McShay said. “I thought his workout numbers was better than the athlete I saw on tape, but there’s a lot to work with. Dawuane Smoot from Illinois, inconsistent his last year but has some ability. Tarell Basham from Ohio is a really underrated prospect that could wind up being a steal.”