INDIANAPOLIS — Georgia sacks leader D’Andre Walker finds himself in a difficult position with the clock ticking down on the April 25-27 NFL draft.
The 6-foot-2, 251-pound Walker knows he has much to prove to NFL teams, and he’s eager to do so, but the sports hernia surgery he underwent on Jan. 23 has proven a disruptor.
Walker suffered the groin injury in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 1 and did everything he could to get ready to play in the Sugar Bowl, even dressing out for the game.
“I’d hoped it would feel better,” Walker said, unaware that the injury would linger and ultimately require surgery on Jan. 23, preventing him from what would have been an invaluable week at the Senior Bowl working with NFL teams.
Coach Kirby Smart used Walker as an outside linebacker in UGA’s 3-4 scheme, but AJC.com Falcons beat writer Orlando D. Ledbetter wonders if Walker has a a position at all at the next level.
“He’s an old school, thumper linebacker in the Akeem Dent and Curtis Lofton mold,” Ledbetter said. “The Falcons deemed those (linebackers) too slow to cover running backs, and the 250-pound guys are no longer three-down linebackers.
“Walker is too big too be a linebacker, and he’s not big enough to be a run-defensive end — those guys start around 280 pounds — so I don’t know where he plays. He’s not a speed rush guy, but somebody might look at him.”
Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy certainly looked at Walker. Nagy, formerly a regional scout with the Seattle Seahawks, couldn’t say enough good things about Walker in January.
NFL teams didn’t see much of Walker at the NFL combine this week because he hasn’t been cleared to work out.
Walker said he’ll check in with his doctor on Friday.
“Hopefully the doctor releases me and I can start doing exercises to be ready for pro day,” Walker said, referring to the March 20 workout date at Georgia.
Walker said he’s willing to play anywhere any NFL team needs him, middle linebacker, outside linebacker or defensive end.
“Georgia has prepared me a lot for the NFL, mainly practice,” Walker said. “Going up against our great offensive line and Coach Smart being in everybody’s face each and everyday and wanting the best from everybody.
“I feel like I’m a great run stopper on first and second down, (and) I always felt like I’m a great pass rusher as well. I feel like I’m an every down player.”
Walker, however knows better than anyone where NFL teams will want to see improvement.
“I’m not a great player overall, I have my flaws, and I own up to them,” Walker said. “I feel like dropping back into coverage (an area to improve). I’ve shown I can do it, but I know I’m not doing it to the best of my ability right now, and that’ what I plan to focus on and keep getting better at.”
The good news for Walker is that, even if he’s not 100 percent on pro day, players can meet with teams up until about two weeks before the draft.
All it takes is one team to like Walker and see the talent and potential for him to fit into the NFL.
Right now, however, all Walker can do is wait until his injury has healed.
Georgia OLB D’Andre Walker
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