2017 NFL Draft Player Profile: Florida State DE DeMarcus Walker

We’re back again breaking down prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft, set to kick off on April 27th through the 29th. Our goal this season is to write reports on at least 150 players and hopefully, as many as 200. It will, of course, have a focus on Pittsburgh Steelers’ wants and needs but we will look big-picture too at the best players in this year’s draft.

If there’s a player you would like us to breakdown, let us know in the comments below.

DeMarcus Walker / DE Florida State 6’4 280 lbs

The Good:

– Powerful punch
– Impressive swim move
– Has a nose for getting to the QB
– Experience playing multiple positions on defensive line
– Good habit of getting hands up to defend QB throws

The Bad:

– Inconsistent effort
– Too slow to defend outside runs
– Gets pushed back more than you’d like in run defense
– Struggles to shed blocks in run defense
– Needs to show a more consistent bull rush


– 2016: 68 tackles, 21.5 TFL, 16 Sacks
– Walker’s 16 sacks were second most in FBS (Division I)
– Second Team All American by AP last season
– Has 26.5 sacks in his last two seasons at Florida State
– Originally committed to Alabama but later chose Florida State

Tape Breakdown:

There is no better place to start Walker’s tape breakdown than his performance against Ole Miss. Out of Walker’s 16 sacks last season, 4.5 of them came in Florida State’s opener against Ole Miss.

In the sack below, Walker is lined up as a 5-technique end and uses his powerful arms to swim inside, beating the Ole Miss left tackle and giving himself a clear path to the quarterback.

Walker’s powerful, long arms give him the tools to be a great pass rusher at the next level. With the tools to succeed at hand, Walker also shows a great understanding of how to use his strength, and arms to succeed. In the play above, watch how Walker’s swim move across the left tackle is very fluid, looking perfectly synchronized.

Walker was not done manhandling Ole Miss offensive lineman though, as this next sack, that is posted below is perhaps his most impressive.

Matched up against the Ole Miss right guard Jordan Sims, Walker bullies his way to another sack. At first glance, how Walker was able to use his left arm to shove and disengage from the 323 pound Sims may be the talking point from the play but that would be like skipping ahead to the end of a fight to just see the knockout blow. By doing that, you miss the events that led to that victorious moment, which in this case is Walker’s sack. Walker’s powerful shove was only used after his initial inside pass rush move was negated by Sims, making Walker’s shove a counter move. Teams watching Walker will love this counter move because the ability to create a play when your first attempt is unsuccessful is a must for NFL pass rushers.

Despite 4.5 sacks, Walker’s Ole Miss game tape is not perfect and reflects some of his greatest weaknesses. Walker struggles to hold his own in run defense and shed blockers. Watch how Walker is easily handled by Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram on the play below.

Walker is so easily handled off the line that it almost appears that the play is occurring on ice. Even worse, is that Walker is being pushed off the line not by a 300-pound offensive lineman but by 227-pound tight end Evan Engram. Walker has more than a 50-pound advantage over Engram, there is no reason he should be getting shoved four yards off the line. Call it an inconsistent motor or a weakness in his run defense, Walker’s stock will drop because of it.

Walker’s lack of motor or effort shines through here again against Louisville.

As Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson begins to run to the sideline to head up field, Walker follows in pursuit – just not for long. Just as Jackson crosses the 12-yard line, Walker goes from a sprint to a light jog. Not something any team wants to see as the opposing quarterback showboats his way to the end zone.

But for all of Walker’s weak traits, the Florida State defensive lineman still has a few more redeeming ones left in store. At 280 pounds, Walker’s strength cannot be questioned but due to his inconsistency it is called into question. Putting that aside, Walker’s strength and bull rush are a sight to see when used with maximum effort.  Look at Walker’s drive on the play below as he notches a sack against Florida in the fourth quarter.

Walker uses his arms, legs and size to get through two offensive linemen and a running back on his way to the quarterback. Walker beats the first lineman with his arms, then uses his lower body power to drive through a second offensive lineman and running back. The tools are there for Walker, it just may be a matter of finding the right coach who can get it all out of him for sixty minutes.

Walker’s versatility on the defensive line man will also be a unique aspect for the team that drafts him. If you noticed on the plays above, Walker was featured both on the left and right side of the line, either as a 5 technique or 3 technique end. Walker also has experience lining up right over the football as well, though I do not figure this will be role he sees often at the next level. With his size, Walker does not seem likely to become a 3-4 outside linebacker unless he drops weight. I project Walker becoming a 3 technique end in the NFL, as his pass rushing move set and size seems better suited in that role.

Projection: Day Two

Games Watched: vs Clemson, vs Ole Miss, vs Louisville, vs Florida

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid Njoku

About the Author

Daniel Valente

Steelers fan from birth, spending majority of my free time looking up statistics. Had the honor of meeting Mike Vanderjagt shortly after his infamous missed field goal in the 2005 Divisional Round. Currently pursuing a Journalism degree. Follow me on Twitter @StatsGuyDaniel

  • Spencer Krick

    An intriguing option for some DL depth, if you can get past the effort concerns. If Coach Mitchell and that DL group can’t fix the effort problems, no one can.

  • SnoopDogg123

    I watch a lot of Florida State football and I’m a big fan of Walker. He’s a Team Leader so I’m surprised when his draft profile mentions lack of effort. The guy never leaves the field, so is it lack of effort or simply endurance? I’m not quite sure where he would fit into the Steelers defense, but he’s a versatile guy that knows to hunt down a QB.

  • Levon Kirkland

    How different is his build from Preston Smith when he was coming out of Mississippi State? Preston weighed 271 & stood at 6’5 at the combine. Preston is doing well at 3-4 OLB in Washington. Can you see Demarcus following Preston’s path?

  • Douglas Andrews

    He’s a great prospect. I watched him on several occasions last season and he can be a dominant player when he gives max effort. No doubt Drill Sargent Mitchell can fix the effort issues. Another plus is he’d be able to come in and contribute on passing downs taking some snaps from Cam or Tuitt.

  • Paddy

    Big man there, would be a fit for sure

  • Steve

    Daniel – Nice write up. This is an interesting DL that can be used in different positions.

    Walker can be powerful, when he wants to, like in the last Gif.
    He can also be quick and powerful as in the 1st Gif.
    The 2nd Gif shows Walker being beat on the line, driven back 5 yards by a TE???
    In the 3rd Gif Walker could have ran faster to the QB and had a nice tackle, but instead he was caught loafing.

    IMHO players like this have all the natural instincts. They just need somebody to lite a fire in them to get the most out of that player.

  • tequila0341

    The question here – is this an effort issue, or a conditioning issue? Because that third gif is incredible. Yet to get manhandled by a 227-lb TE like Engram is unacceptable.

    Kawann Short had very similar issues out of Iowa. A lot of plays it looked like he just did not care. If you watch him in the NFL, similar snaps occur. When he’s fully motivated, though, he’s nearly unstoppable.

    So is he going to be a future Haynesworth, or just another mediocrity who washes out? I’m very wary of someone who needs to be motivated to play hard.

  • Michael James

    Watched all the tape and if the Steelers draft him in the first three rounds I would be absolutely shocked. He’s stiff as a board and will never be an 3-4 OLB in the NFL. His best bet is as a rotational 3-tech, but I think he lacks the athleticism to play well there. Reports say that he’s a hard worker and nice kid, but we can’t afford to waste another high draft pick on an OLB.
    I’m very very sure, he’ll never be something special and I even root for him, since he seems to be a nice person.

  • Michael James

    Unfortunately Walker is much worse if you watch the tape.

  • PaeperCup

    Man, GIF 4 makes me want to scratch him off my list immediately.

  • The Truth

    It reminds me of Woodley.

  • PaeperCup

    Well Woodley was pretty terrific for a while. Then he got fat.

  • Dshoff

    He reminds me of Harrison. I like him and think he might be a fit at olb. I don’t think he’ll last till our pick in the 3rd round though, and I don’t think I’d take him any sooner.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Can you guys do a draft Profile of Budda Baker S/CB from Washington, please? Thanx in advance!

  • LucasY59

    I kind a think of Lamar Woodley when I see Walker, and If they draft Reddick in the 1st and Walker in the 2nd it could be a very similar to the 2007 draft, where the took Timmons in the 1st and Wood in the 2nd (all they would need to do is take a TE in the 3rd and they could match the Spaeth pick as well) *If they draft Walker they just need to be careful about giving him a big 2nd contract…

    actually I dont really want Walker in the 2nd (think there will be other players that better fit what they are looking for/need, especially since they already have a LOLB with Bud)

    I dont really see him as a 5 tech DE all that much either (but a 4-3 team will pick him before the Steelers anyway) If I had to pick a DE in rd 2 it would be Tanoh Kpassagnon, who is faster/more athletic than Walker, and also longer, which would help him be able to be a depth/rotational 5 tech in the Steelers system, but I also think he could line up on the outside in the subpackage as well, and be the Elephant player that is versatile and can help in both the base as well as the subpackage stuff (which would add extra value to the pick) Tanoh is a bit raw, but his potential is great, adding him and Reddick would give the Steelers a lot of sub package versatility

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    Reminds me of Mr Stay-Puft.

  • Daniel Valente

    Think he’s better suited in a 4-3 than as a 3-4 OLB.

  • Daniel Valente

    Exactly Steve, Walker has all the things you love in a player but also all the things you hate to see.
    Thanks for reading !

  • Daniel Valente

    As are 32 NFL executives, risk vs reward has to have a fair balance for Walker and the team that drafts him.

  • Daniel Valente

    Sure, I’m working on Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham right now, if no one has started Baker by the time I finish, I will look into profiling Baker next.

  • I’m with you. That effort has no business playing for the Steelers. I imagine John Mitchell and the boys could light a fire under him though

  • He’ll probably be decent in the NFL till he gets his first big contract. And then, see: Woodley, Lamaar

  • That’s kind of where I’m at. I’m all for adding depth to the D-line because you can never have enough talent in the trenches. I’m looking for someone with more of a mean streak though. This guy does seem to fit the profile physically, as far as what the Steelers look for in their ends, but yea, definitely not an OLB, way to stiff for that. I hate seeing him get washed out of runs like he does, and the low effort. I’m seeing a day two or later. 4-3 end or a guy who will sub in the nickel on passing downs

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Thanx, I love these! I really appreciate all you guys do!

  • Geoffrey Benedict

    He was a beast in the bowl game. It was incredible watching him move around and beat everyone on that Michigan O-line.

  • VaDave

    About $60 million of fat…..

  • Applebite

    I think the Steelers have bad luck when it comes to dealing with Fl. St players. Vince has thus far been the outlier…

  • falconsaftey43


  • Andrew

    Can we get a look at Tedric Thompson? Looks like a late round sleeper. Have a good ballhawk safety would be awesome

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Thank You Levon!

    That is an excellent comparison. Not because they’re “exactly” the same player but because they are “similar” in size and traits. They have “similar” strengths and weaknesses.

    I loved Preston as a a left edge guy (for the Steelers) and a lot of people thought he was too big and too slow to play OLB in the NFL. He is already proving them wrong.

    Walker is a tremendous talent as well. His biggest problem is that he fatigues. If he loses 10-15 pounds, I believe he will perform even better, be even quicker, and he will not fatigue as easily.

    I would be very content if we snatched Walker at 1.30.

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  • Carlos Martínez

    What do you think about Fish Smithson?

  • LucasY59

    I think he could be an interesting player, he could even be a slot cover guy

  • Applebite

    You’re right, forgot about Timmons.,,as amazing as that might sound.

  • pittfan

    extremely weird that a big powerful guy like this could show so much aggression in pass rush but get washed out by a 227 lb TE…Desire???

  • pittfan

    #3 as well.

  • pittfan

    When I had my restaurant business, I had a crew of about 20-25 workers. So over the years I hired 100’s of kids and young adults. The ONE THING I had to see in these people was, were they NICE. Was that a part of their nature. If they had it, I could hire them, teach them the job, and get decent results. But I never succeded trying to teach someone to be nice.
    If these guys who want to play in the NFL don’t go balls to wall, I’d would not look twice cuz they’ll never have it.

  • pittfan

    Or a rotational DE in a 4-3 as a pass rusher. That seems to be about all he wants to do or be.

  • gdeuce

    These are their last 10 picks from Florida State: VW, LT, Willie Reid, Bryant McFadden, Alonzo Jackson, Chris Hope, Orpheus Roye, Weegie Thompson, Nat Terry, and JT Thomas. I really don’t see where you get the notion that we have bad luck drafting players from there

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    That’s the only reason I want him for that very reason. I think he could be a wild card type of player on defense.

  • Kevin Reich

    No heart, no thanks. See Justin Gilbert.

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  • Ike Evans

    He would be good for a team like atlanta…if DQ can put a fire in him like he did rasheed hageman

  • Frank

    LT = Timmons.

  • Frank

    For my edge rusher, I want him familiar w/ playing on the right side, b/cuz B.DuPree is set on the left. He should rotate w/ Harrison, if he comes back.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I like him in the 2nd round. He isn’t that guy that excites me but I can see 5-6 sack kinda guy.

  • Daniel Valente

    No problem, I appreciate you reading. I think you will be happy to hear that I just completed the Budda Baker profile and it will be up either sometime Sunday or Monday at latest.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Nice! Can’t wait to see it! Thanx for the follow up, Daniel!

  • disqus_WrRvUyG2DA

    Looks great at getting to qb. This is what we need. Run support doesnt look the best but more teams throw the ball these days. He will have to learn to keep his motor going more for run support.

  • Dshoff

    I’d be ecstatic if the Steelers got him with the second pick. He is very physical and he just looks like a Steeler.