The Detroit Lions stunned all of their fans on Friday night with their third-round selection Tracy Walker. One minute after the pick, no one knew who Walker was. Two minutes after the pick, we knew that he was either friends or cousins with Darius Slay. After that, mostly everyone was just tired and ready for Day 3 of the draft.
But let’s do some more digging on the Louisiana-Lafayette product. Here are five things to know about defensive back Tracy Walker.
He’s an extremely athletic player
If you’re looking for a player that hits all of the athletic benchmarks you want in a defensive back, Tracy Walker is your guy. He was one of the top performers in the secondary at this year’s NFL Combine:
.@TracyWalkerIII made the most of his opportunity yesterday at the #NFLCombine2018, finishing as a Top Performer in 4 categories including a 4.51sec performance in the 40!#GEAUXCajuns pic.twitter.com/ALMo6FwLmr— Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns® Football (@RaginCajunsFB) March 6, 2018
Though his RAS wasn’t elite (6.88), his speed scores distanced himself from some of his peers in Indianapolis. Walker also has the arm length (33.5 inches) that allows him to break up passes he has no business of disrupting.
He balled out during the week of the East-West Shrine Game practice
While Walker was somewhat quiet during the game, he was a standout at practice, per several sources.
When talking about the pick, Bob Quinn specifically mentioned the week of Shrine practices, in which the Lions general manager personally attended.
“He was one of the best players in that game that entire week when I was there personally,” Quinn said on Friday night.
Walker had Top-30 meetings with at least three different teams
While it remains up for debate whether Walker was worth a third-round pick, there’s little doubt other teams were at least interested in Walker. He had pre-draft visits with at least three different teams: the Cowboys, Titans, and Panthers. The Panthers were interested enough in Walker that their general manager was there at Louisiana-Lafayette’s meagerly attended Pro Day. Detroit ended up taking Walker three spots before the Panthers were on the clock in the third round.
Some considered him a potential second-round pick going into the 2017 season
It’s unclear what caused Walker to fall off the radar for some draft analysts, but it wasn’t always that way with him. Here’s what Rotoworld had to say about him back in December:
Walker was seen as a potential second-to-third round pick coming into the season thanks to his size (6’2/200) and productivity, but has seen his stock drop as the campaign progressed. He did finish with 97 tackles and intercepted two passes, and if he plays well in the Shrine Game activities, he has a chance to reestablish his draft stock.
He has position versatility
We all know Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia value a guy who can play multiple positions and Walker certainly fits that bill. Many believe Walker may be due for a move to cornerback because of his size and arm length, but Walker actually briefly played a different position than safety or cornerback in 2016.
It was just one game, but Walker started the 2016 season at linebacker. After losing their season opener to Boise State 45-10, Lafayette fired their defensive coordinator, and Walker was immediately moved back to safety.
Walker’s ability and willingness to come down into the box as a linebacker could make him a valuable piece to Patricia’s defense, which values utilizing different players in different packages.