NFL Draft Profile: Fresno State ILB Mykal Walker

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The Los Angeles Rams are undergoing a defensive scheme and regime change. With that being said, former Pro Bowl starting inside linebacker Cory Littleton has departed via free agency. That leaves the Rams set to start Micah Kiser, a former fifth-round pick and one of their young crop of inexperienced talent. While the Rams have talent and potential at the position, one could make the argument that they will need to look in the NFL Draft early on for a replacement to Littleton.

Here’s a linebacker in the draft who could possess some value to the depth chart, Mykal Walker.

College Bio

Mykal Walker started off his collegiate career playing at Azusa Pacific, a division two university in California. Walker started off his freshman year there as a backup while working his way up the rungs the next year. Walker finished his sophomore season at Azusa Pacific with over 100 tackles and first-team all-conference honors. Following his sophomore season, Walker transferred to Fresno State and was forced to redshirt his first year due to the transfer rule. In 2018, the redshirt-junior was a key starter on the defense at the defensive end position. The following season in his senior year, Walker switched to inside linebacker and ended up being a first-team All-Mountain West player.

Measurables

Height: 6’3
Weight: 230

Strengths

Walker started two different positions in college which means he’s got the versatility that will have teams salivating. Walker is a very solid athlete that is an effective tackler in space. He’s been asked to do a lot in only two years at Fresno State and has been up for the challenge which points to his coachability and overall football IQ. He’s got a very quick first-step and some nice short-area burst to attack the trenches. His motor runs hot and plays with some nastiness to his game. Overall, he can shoot the gaps well, he can play sideline-to-sideline and offers pass rush upside due to his time at defensive end which might allow him to stay on the field for all three downs.

Weaknesses

Walker isn’t an elite athlete by any stretch and that shows up on film when he’s asked to cover deeper than the shallows reaches of the field. He still has plenty to work on in pursuit of becoming a better block shedding linebacker. Lacks pop behind his pads and doesn’t finish consistently, will often need some help to finish the job. Only started one year at the FBS level in terms of playing linebacker, still relatively raw on film. Lacks consistency in his game, he can get streaky as a playmaker and then fall off and put himself into a “slump” almost.

Three Plays on Tape

 

Development

Mykal Walker is a very interesting prospect in this draft. While he has some serious deficiencies in his game and doesn’t quite take over as much as he appears he should. He’s still a talented raw prospect that only has one season of FBS starting linebacker experience. He has the athleticism to eventually develop in pass coverage or at least project an above-average ceiling in terms of it. You are likely looking at a developmental starter or chess piece at the next level. Walker’s background as a defensive end allows him to add value rushing off the edge which if a team likes Walker enough, they might choose to keep him on the field on third down. You may have to move around Walker or go all-in on his development at linebacker but either way, he’s a talented player who could definitely and should definitely carve out a role for himself in the NFL.

Draft Grade: 5th round

Bottom Line

Walker is a future NFL contributor with potential starting upside. He will have to improve as he is just a one-year FBS starting linebacker but he offers some intriguing upside that will be enough to get a team interested near the beginning-to-middle of day three in the draft. The Rams could definitely look at Walker as a piece for the linebacker room and a potential chess piece as someone that could move around the defense. He’s got some flashy things on tape that have you thinking he could start and then some not-so-flashy things. Even still, you have to bet on his talent and overall upside to have a shot in some facet.

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