D’Andre Walker has displayed plenty of athleticism since arriving at Georgia.
His skill set and build has always been ideal for rushing the passer. But Walker, like many of the outside linebackers before him at Georgia, has run into the problem of being a member of one of the better position groups on the roster.
Before Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy could see much playing time, Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins came through and showcased their skills. Walker came in a year after Carter, which meant he had to work behind both Carter and Bellamy for the past three years.
And in this role, Walker was a pass-rush specialist on third down. As a junior in 2017, Walker produced in a big way.
He finished the season second-best on Georgia’s roster in sacks with 5.5. Only inside linebacker Roquan Smith had more with 6.5. Walker did this as a rotational player who didn’t see the limelight as often as his counterparts.
Now, Walker will have every opportunity to prove he is an every-down outside linebacker. Given his experience in the defensive system, this job is Walker’s to lose. Sure, he will rotate with others at the position. But with his ability to rush the passer, Walker will be counted on in a major way off the edge this season.
With how instrumental Carter and Bellamy were to Georgia’s success last season, Walker is hopeful the 2018 group will pick up where they left off.
“Everybody’s working hard every day,” Walker said. “I feel like we still have room for improvement. I just want to get back to work. I feel like we have a lot more room for improvement.”
Measurables: 6-foot-3, 240 pounds
Accomplishments to date: The former four-star recruit saw limited action during his first two years at Georgia. Last year, in addition to his 5.5 sacks, he totaled 13.5 tackles for loss, which was only half-a-tackle shy of Smith’s team-best of 14. He also tied for seventh-best on the team in 2017 with 40 total tackles. Even with Walker stepping into a starting role, he is likely to still be a contributor on special teams.
Competition at the position: The outside linebacker position will feature quite a few faces. In addition to Walker, Walter Grant, Robert Beal, Keyon Richardson, Brenton Cox, Adam Anderson, Quay Walker and Azeez Ojulari are all vying for snaps. Getting specific, Walker is the favorite to start at the Jack outside linebacker spot, with Beal and Cox working in as well. There should be plenty of bodies to get after the quarterback, with Walker being the primary candidate in the most important in-game situations.
Why he will break out in 2018: On the surface, it would seem a player like Walker already had a breakout season in 2017, considering he was second on the team in sacks and tackles for loss. Then again, Walker’s budding potential signals he could wind up adding on to those kind of numbers in 2018.
It would not be a surprise to see Walker, based on his strengths as a defender, wind up with some gaudy numbers by the time the 2018 season is finished. The fact Walker accrued 5.5 sacks in limited playing time is indicative that with more snaps, he could flourish statistically.