The Indianapolis Colts selected Northwestern linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. with the 161st pick in the 5th round which concludes their NFL Draft (as it stands).
The 6’1″, 238 pound inside linebacker recorded 105 tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, an interception, and 4 forced fumble in 13 games during his junior season for the Wildcats–earning 2nd-Team All-Big Ten honors (for the 2nd time).
Here’s his NFL.com Draft Profile:
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“He is playing way too heavy right now, and I don’t think he’s in the shape he needs to be in. But, hey, he’s always productive and he plays in a physical conference, so that’s a plus. He can run but he’s not a great athlete. I think he’ll be a much better player if he plays around 230.” — Director of scouting for AFC team
Has packed muscle onto his frame that looks good in the uniform but might be limiting his flexibility and athletic ability. A productive, downhill linebacker who misses too many tackles and struggles as a take-on player. He checks all the desired boxes for football and personal character and can be counted on to do what it takes to improve his game. He could become a decent starting linebacker within his first few years.
It’s worth noting that he was also a member of Bleacher Report Matt Miller’s 2017 NFL Draft ‘All Sleeper’ Team:
“A two-time All-Big Ten selection, Walker has excellent strength and an NFL-ready physique.
Playing for former linebacker Pat Fitzgerald, Walker has been groomed for the NFL since day one. He’s an instinctive, downhill linebacker with excellent run-stuffing chops. He has the speed to step into gaps and aggressively meet running backs in the hole and once there has the power to stack them up at the line or for a loss.
Conditioning was a bit of a question for Walker this season as he looked gassed at times, but that might be related more to his oversized frame. If he gets leaner and works on better agility, he’ll boost his stock at the combine. I see Walker as a great fit in a 3-4 defense as an early starter in the NFL.”
The Colts could use competition at inside linebacker, as none of the team’s starting spots have been safety determined–although free agent signee Sean Spence looks like a clear frontrunner.
Otherwise, the team has a pair of returning young inside linebackers, Antonio Morrison and Edwin ‘Pound Cake’ Jackson, as well as veteran addition Jon Bostic (who was recently signed) with no clear ‘ace’ of the group.
As you may recall, the team released veteran starter D’Qwell Jackson earlier this offseason and have simply struggled replacing Jerrell Freeman from a year ago. The team also let backup and special teamer Josh McNary leave in free agency.
Walker could potentially push for starting playing reps, and worst case, should be able to provide immediate contributions on special teams–while adding additional linebacker depth in the process.