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PFF scouting report: Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern

Name: Anthony Walker

School: Northwestern

Position fit: Inside linebacker

Stats to know: Finished 199th among FBS ILBs in tackling efficiency thanks to 19 total missed tackles in 2016. 17 of his misses came against Big Ten competition in 2016, and he had 53 total from 2014 to 2016.

What he does best:

  • Plays bigger than 6-foot-1, 238 pounds suggests; has good upper-body build and isn’t afraid to get physical with blockers.
  • Offers enough burst and physicality at the line of scrimmage to offer some viability as a blitzer.
  • Has the speed to cut off the boundary on outside runs as well as get depth in coverage when using proper footwork.
  • Can defeat blockers with both strength and quickness at the point of attack.
  • Ranks third among draft-eligible Big Ten inside linebackers with at least 300 run snaps in run stop percentage.

Biggest concern:

  • Has the athleticism to be effective in coverage but appears to lack awareness; struggles to consistently identify receivers and route concepts through his area.
  • Will get fooled by play-action; follows flow of play at times without regard to his keys.
  • Choppy in his pedal, can lose ground in transition when in man coverage despite straight-line speed.
  • Tends to overrun plays when attacking forward, resulting in far too many missed tackles.
  • At times will try to run around gaps instead of taking them head-on.
  • Yielded receptions on 65 of 86 combined targets into his coverage in 2015 and 2016.

Player comparison: Kwon Alexander, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Alexander has shown limitations in coverage at the NFL level (has allowed receptions on 103 of 133 times targeted during his career with the Bucs), while he is active and aggressive against the run, struggles with consistency because of poor tackling.

Bottom line: Walker has the natural bulk to play inside at the next level, and should be able to add weight to his frame. When initiating with blockers he shows he has the ability to shed, but at times will get caught attacking a bit too far upfield and get sealed out too easily. His biggest issues are his tackling, which is poor due to his over-aggressiveness, and his play in coverage. He seems to get lost in transition at times, and doesn’t show the same athleticism going backward as he does when attacking the line of scrimmage. He also tends to lose receivers through his area, and struggles to locate the ball once it’s in the air. Walker will need to significantly improve both of these areas of his game if he is to have a regular role at the NFL level, but is likely to be selected early on Day 3 because of his athletic measurables.

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