Welcome back to 4 questions. So far we’ve learned that Frank Ragnow is one of the best players to ever wear a Razorbacks helmet and that everyone keeps comparing Kerryon Johnson to Le’Veon Bell. Today we’re here to answer one simple question, who is Tracy Walker?
There’s no doubt that the Lions needed a corner opposite All-Pro Darius Slay. The options were aplenty in free agency. But as we know now, the Lions were picky when it came to signing players this offseason. Naturally, the draft was the next best option. The Lions decided the best thing they could do to help Slay is to bring in one of his family members.
So in the third round the Lions selected Darius Slay’s second cousin, Tracy Walker of Louisiana-Lafayette. Darius seems pretty happy about it.
Yes sir the wick is in the building.... welcome fam @TracyWalkerIII this is crazy.....— Darius Slay (@_bigplayslay23) April 28, 2018
Bt for the rest of us, a resounding “who?” flew through the air. Can you blame anyone? While Louisiana-Lafayette is a Division 1 program, it’s not like they’re constantly on TV, and it’s definitely not like that come up north very often. In fact, they’ve only played against one Michigan school in their program’s history: A 33-14 win over Eastern Michigan in 2006.
What we slowly started to figure out was that Walker was a guy that was expected to go much deeper in the draft. Even Walker himself was expecting to go in the fifth round. But he seemed to rocket up a lot of draft boards in the coming weeks and suddenly here he is in the third round. The Lions war room seemed pretty stoked about it.
Here's Newmark's reaction to the Walker pick: pic.twitter.com/rpiGcjpQPk— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) April 28, 2018
Our own Jeremy Reisman put together a great piece about getting to know Walker here for us. But we wanted to get the thoughts on Walker from someone that’s spent the past few years watching him. So we got in touch with Tim Buckley of The Daily Advertiser for some answers. Here’s what he had to say.
POD: What are you overall thoughts on Walkers time at Louisiana-Lafayette?
TDA: “Tracy Walker grew as both a player and a person during his time at UL. He arrived from out of state as a quiet kid who did not necessarily stand out in his recruiting class, but left as a vocal leader of the Ragin’ Cajuns defense. Playing under multiple defensive coordinators and frequently changing systems during his time at UL probably did not help his growth at safety, but by the same token, Walker did not seem to let that get in his way of doing his job. Having never made an All-Sun Belt Conference first team, he was underrated by opposing coaches – and sometimes underappreciated even in his own backyard.”
POD: What are his strengths?
TDA: “Walker is versatile; he played mostly safety at UL, but some NFL scouts feel he has some corner in him too. Leadership skills are there. He’s a hard hitter, and a proper tackler too. With a 4.51 seconds 40-yards dash clocking at the NFL Combine, speed is in his favor – that’s a solid time for a safety – and could help him find a special teams role in addition to however else he is used. Good arm length too. “Ball skills” and “playermaker” are two terms also frequently attached to Walker, who had eight interceptions as a Cajun including five over his last two seasons at UL with three of them coming against SEC opponents.”
POD: What are is weaknesses?
TDA: “Decision-making in the back end needs to come quicker. Instincts seem more learned than they are natural, and confidence sometimes seems to be lacking. Walker started since he was a redshirt freshman, but as the product of a Sun Belt Conference program he has very limited experience against top-quality/Power 5 competition.”
POD: Walker flew up draft boards in the weeks prior to the draft. Did the Lions grab a steal here? Or is Walker a long-term project?
TDA: “Not many around Louisiana or the Sun Belt Conference figured Walker would get drafted as high as he did, so going in the third round seems like more of a reach at that stage of the draft than a steal. He perhaps could have been had a round or two later. Even Walker himself did not expect to go in the third; he figured more like the fifth round. So the immediate impact may not be there relative to what is expected of most third-rounders, but because of Walker’s makeup he could be somebody who carves out a lengthy NFL career.”
Some good stuff here by Tim. By all accounts, it looks like the Lions have grabbed an athlete here, and are fully prepared for the project that this athlete is about to be. I would urge Lions fans to temper their expectations, as always. The potential is there. This could just take a little while.
Thanks again to Tim Buckley. If you’re ever in the Lafayette area, go pick up a Daily Advertiser and read up on his work.