Film Room: Brian Walker
Jason: A cornerback can’t cover that much better.
Greg: Brian Walker showed flashes his freshman year, but he was among the many defensive guys that really struggled last year – whether it was scheme, confidence, or the disconnect with the Vic Koenning staff.
He is fearless as a corner and that’s what you want. He doesn’t mind getting in there with the bigger guys and he can lay a lick.
Jason: He changes direction smoothly. He’s scheme diverse.
Greg: Yet for much of the spring he wasn’t with the first team. You kind of have to wonder … Gene Chizik talked about everybody operating with a clean slate and I believe that, but you have to wonder if there’s been any communication with how players reacted last year …
Jason: What he means by clean slate is he’ll also watch the film from last year. So he’ll see that.
Greg: So not necessarily a wake up call but just saying that you have to earn your position.
Jason: And it’s not like there are no other corners on the roster. That is one place on the defense where I do think there’s talent. He’s not the only guy with talent at that position on this roster.
Greg: When you evaluate Walker on film, what do you see?
Jason: Walker is scheme diverse in what he can do. He’s got decent size and length. What I see is that he turns and runs smoothly. If you watch his feet, and watch him mirror off the line of scrimmage, you see how quickly and cleanly his feet move, and then he’s able to turn and run. And that’s what better corners can do. And he can then throttle down and break on the ball with underneath stuff naturally. So you’ve got a guy who can do a lot of things at that position and do that not just in a Cover-2 look, but because he’s got decent speed he can turn and run not just in the intermediate zone, but he can run downfield. He can give you a lot at that position physically – and he’s got some aggression to him, which is what you want at the corner position. So I see a lot to like, but we also saw a lot of plays last year that are not what you like. So the tools are there, it’s just a matter of getting production.
Greg: He would therefore seem to be a candidate for a breakout season in the post-Koenning era.
Jason: I like what they’re doing with him in this scheme. You’ve got a guy who is natural in his ability to mirror, with quick feet, and again a guy who can turn and run or throttle down and jump routes. This was a good example – he’s in position to break a ball up on an underneath route. And with the Cover-2 situation, you’re going to have him in the hard corner role a lot, with deep help, that’ll allow him to sink his hips and turn and break on the football. I see him as a guy who can bring in some turnovers in that role because he doesn’t have to worry about someone just running by him. Allowing him the freedom to do that, to maybe gamble on some balls underneath, for a guy like him, you’ve got more of a chance of seeing big plays and less chances of being beat deep because he’s got safety help.
Greg: There will need to be improvement up front, too. If the defensive line doesn’t get enough pressure, the cornerbacks are having to cover for longer than they need to be.
Jason: But at the same time, even if they’re covering for a long time, they’re looking back at the football in the Cover-2. They’re looking back, and not responsible for as much deep stuff, so they’re not going to be getting beat as much overall. The question will be whether or not you can hold up at the safety position.
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