Prospects

Prospects
Photo of Derek Walker
Derek Walker (DE)
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 268
College: Illinois
Conference: Big Ten
Hometown: Glendale Heights, IL
High School: Glenbard East
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  1. Overview
  2. Analysis
Overview

Walker began his Illini career starting his first 30 games before an ankle napped that string. He would start 42 of 47 contests he appeared in, joining Doug Pilcher and Will Davis to give the Illini the premier defensive end unit in the Big Ten Conference.


Walker ranks tied for seventh in school history with 15 sacks. Even though he has made just 110 tackles (58 solos), on 109 running plays he limited the opposition to 61 yards, an average of 0.56 yards per rushing attempt. Along the way, he allowed only six ball carriers to run for first downs against him, delivering 38 third-down stops and one more on fourth down vs. the opposition.


At Glenbard East High School, Walker was an All-State honorable mention by the Champaign News-Gazette. He was named the team's Most Valuable Player in football, track and basketball, adding All-Conference football honors as a senior. He was also chosen to the All-Area football and basketball squad by the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.


Walker recorded 125 tackles, 11 sacks, 30 hurries, two forced fumbles and deflected two passes as a senior, garnering Super Prep and Prep Star All-Region accolades. In track, he was a two-time All-Conference selection in the discus. He was also named to the All-Conference team in basketball.


Walker enrolled as a 245-pound defensive lineman at Illinois in 2004, but spent the season honing his skills on the scout team. He was selected to The Sporting News' freshman All-American team in 2005, starting all 11 contests at left defensive end. He posted 26 tackles (15 solos) with a sack, six stops for losses and three pressures. He also broke up one pass. Teams gained only 9 yards on 24 running plays vs. the redshirt freshman, an average of 0.38 yards per carry.


Walker was a second-team All-Big Ten Conference choice in 2006, starting all 12 games despite shoulder and ankle injuries that would have sidelined most players. He produced 29 tackles (12 solos) with 5.5 sacks, eight stops behind the line of scrimmage and 12 pressures. He also broke up two tosses, as teams completed just one of 15 passes into his area for 15 yards. He held the opposition to 8 yards on 29 carries (0.28 ypc) that he was involved in.


As a junior, Walker started the first eight games, but an ankle injury vs. Michigan snapped his 30-game starting string and relegated him to reserve duty for the final four contests. Still, he delivered 22 tackles (12 solos), nine pressures and 2.5 sacks. He allowed only 18 yards on 22 running plays he took part in, an average of 0.82 yards per carry.


Walker was utilized at all four down lineman positions as a senior, starting 11 games. He tied for the team lead with six sacks, adding nine pressures, seven stops for losses and 33 tackles (19 solos). He recovered two fumbles, intercepted a pass and blocked one field goal.


High School

Attended Glenbard East (Glendale Heights, Ill.) High School, playing football for head coach Dennis Lueck...All-State honorable mention by the Champaign News-Gazette...


Named the team's Most Valuable Player in football, track and basketball, adding All-Conference gridiron honors as a senior...Chosen to the All-Area football and basketball squad by the Arlington Heights Daily Herald...Recorded 125 tackles, 11 sacks, 30 hurries, two forced fumbles and deflected two passes as a senior, garnering Super Prep and Prep Star All-Region accolades...In track, he was a two-time All-Conference selection in the discus...Named to the All-Conference team in basketball.


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Analysis

Positives: Legitimate NFL frame. Good overall strength at the point of attack. Can anchor in the running game due to his lower-body strength and can push the tackle into the pocket. Good upper-body strength and flashes the hand technique to disengage from blockers. Good initial quickness off the snap and can threaten the edge. Cognizant, experienced defender who understands his contain responsibilities. Effective tackler in close quarters. Wraps up securely. Durable, high-effort player. Fights until the whistle and gives good effort in pursuit. Willing to throw his body onto the pile.


Negatives: Not an elite athlete. Only phone-booth quickness. Struggles a bit laterally and needs an open lane to close on the ballcarrier. Lacks the quick hips and straight-line speed to play in space. Might be a finished product.


Compares To: DARNELL DOCKETT, Arizona -- Like Dockett, Walker has impressive raw power and balance to play any position on the defensive line. He has very good timed speed, but would be better served as a strong-side end, playing alongside an under-tackle, as his ability to impact ball carriers and push the outside running game back into the pile is one of his better attributes.


Injury Report

2006: Missed most of the Michigan State game (9/30) with a shoulder contusion and AC joint sprain...Suffered a left ankle sprain vs. Wisconsin (10/28).


2007: Sat out the Ball State game (10/27) and was relegated to reserve duty for the last four contests after spraining his left ankle early in the Michigan game (10/20).


2008: Suffered a thigh contusion that forced him to the sidelines for the second half vs. Indiana (10/18)...Sprained his left ankle, missing a portion of the Wisconsin game (10/25), as that injury limited him to reserve duty the following week vs. Iowa.


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