In the Film Room: Deion Walker

If you are a fan of big wide receivers this is a great year for you. The wide receiver crop for this 2008 recruiting class is very talented and very deep. It is filled with tall, fast, and athletic players who have a chance to be outstanding college football players. Deion Walker is one of the best of the bunch.

PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES

Walker fits right into the national model this year. He's a tall (6-3), long-armed player with a good frame. He's a bit on the skinny side right now, but with his frame he'll be able to fill out quite nicely. As he gets into a college strength and conditioning program he'll get stronger and develop physically which is a weakness of his game right now.

TECHNIQUE

Technique is an area where Walker's college coaches are going to need to spend a great deal of time working with him. Walker has all the physical requirements and natural instincts to dominate, but he doesn't have good technique. Walker is a very raw young player who is simply able to dominate his opposition. Having played myself at a private school in Virginia I'm very well aware of just how bad that level of football actually is. Right now the Christchurch star is simply able to dominate players who are much smaller, much slower, and lack the talent he would be facing if he were going up against public school players. This doesn't diminish Walker's ability, but rather is just means he'll have more work to do once he gets to college.

As a route runner Walker will need plenty of work. First of all he needs to be more consistent with his take off. When he is running a deep route he comes flying off the ball and blows past defenders. But it's easy to tell when he isn't running a deep route because he will not come off the ball the same way. He gets a bit higher and doesn't come off as hard. That will need to be corrected. There are other aspects of route running that are missing from Walker's game. He will have to learn to attack defenders leverage and he'll have to learn to use his body better on his cuts. He tends to give away what he is doing. A well coached cornerback will be able to jump all his routes right now. Walker has really good ability to get in and out of his cuts from a footwork standpoint, which is probably the most important aspect of route running. Once he learns the ins and outs of the position he'll have the ability to really gain separation from defenders.

Walker has tremendous field awareness--not only with the defenders around him--but also with where he is on the field. There are plenty of catches he makes where you see him feel out the sideline and the defender simultaneously. This is something that really can't be taught. It can be enhanced but really in most instances a guy either has it or he doesn't. Walker also shows tremendous concentration on the football. He is one of those guys who really seem to see or feel nothing else but the football when it's in the air. You love guys like this. Players with this attribute are usually fearless individuals who will be able to make a catch in traffic, make great catches on the deep ball, and win jump balls. All of the above describe Deion Walker as well. Walker has superb ball skills and catches the ball clean and away from his body. One area of Walker's game that will be fixed his first day on campus is how he carries the football when he is moving around with the football in his hands. Right now Walker tends to let the ball get away from his body and that is something any good wide receiver coach will see and correct from day one.

ATHLETIC ABILITY

While I might seem critical of Walker's technique, I love him as a prospect. The reason for that is despite his lack of great technical ability he has all the physical tools necessary to be a dominant college football player. I've already discussed his size but Walker also has tremendous athletic ability to match. I wouldn't classify him as a burner but Walker does have very good speed. He'll need to learn to play faster on a more consistent basis, but when he goes he can really move. Walker is also a very agile young man. He has good foot quickness and agility. He doesn't require more than a step or two to be able to cut in or back. That is where his ability to separate will come from. Walker also has tremendous balance to combine with that agility. This makes him very hard to get a good shot at as a defender.

Walker is also a very smooth and fluid football player. I had to watch his film a couple of times in order to really appreciate his speed. He's so graceful that at times he doesn't appear to be moving as fast as his reported times. But the more you watch his film you see that burst. The Christchurch star also has unbelievable body control. Not just when going up after the football but also adjusting to under-thrown passes and moving in and out of traffic. I also like the jumping ability Walker possesses although he'll need to learn to time his jumps a little better in college. Guys like Walker, with his quickness, speed, footwork, and fluid hips can become great route runners. That is why I am so high on Walker. He is very raw and far from a finished product but his upside is tremendous.

OVERVIEW

I don't really get concerned if a high school football player isn't a good route runner. As I've mentioned before I would usually change most of the aspects of his technique once he got to college regardless of what he did in high school. What I look for is whether or not a player has the athletic ability and natural skills to develop into a good/great route runner. I see in Walker every skill necessary to be a great route runner. With his size and speed combined with those skills he has the potential to be a big-play guy in college.

There are two types of big-play guys at wide receiver. There is the guy who is a threat to catch a screen and juke and muscle his way to a big play. There is the guy who uses his speed and technique to abuse defensive backs with his routes and gets open deep. Walker has more of the latter in his game. That fits in very well with what the Notre Dame offense is all about. Whoever lands Deion Walker is going to have one of the nation's premier wide receivers running around for the next four years.

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