Scout's Notebook: TE Nick Walker

Take and inside look at rookie tight end Nick Walker, his strengths, weaknesses and overall chances of making it with the Vikings in training camp later this summer.

#89, Nick Walker, TE (6047, 253, 4.86-4.98) Alabama

Notes: Born Nicholas Antwan Walker, 11/19/85, in Brundidge, Ala. Parents are Brinda and Jerry Steward. Has two brothers and one sister. Helped Pike County High School to its first state title in 14 years en route to Class 3A All-State and All-County honors. Had 67 catches for 1,028 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior. Also handled placekicking duties for his team. Had 37 catches for over 800 yards and 10 touchdowns to earn All-County and All-State honors as a junior. Also enjoys playing basketball.

College: Committed to Alabama, then coached by Mike Shula, but also drew interest from West Virginia, Southern Mississippi, Louisville and Alabama-Birmingham. Redshirted in 2004. Started 11-of-12 games in 2005; caught 9-12-0 (13.3 avg.). Played in 13 games, starting one, in 2006; caught Nick Walker3-39-1 (13.0 avg.). Lost about 20 pounds entering his junior campaign, weighing 270+ prior. Started all 13 games played in 2007; caught 23-204-2 (8.9 avg.). Started 11-of-14 games in 2008; caught a career-high 32-324-2 (10.1 avg.). Split time with fellow senior Travis McCall (who signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Bills). Played in 51 career games with the Roll Tide, the second-most in school history. Was voted the team’s Unsung Hero Award. Invited to the East-West Shire Game following the season, where he played for former NFL coach Bobby Ross on the East squad.

Pre-Draft: Measured 6047 (6’4 7/8”), 253 pounds and posted a 1.67 10-yard dash, 2.85 20-yard dash, 4.97-4.98 40-yard dash, 4.99 20-yard shuttle, 7.90 three-cone drill, 31-inch vertical jump and did 14 reps at 225 pounds at Alabama’s Pro Day on March 11, 2009.

Pro: Signed by the Vikings as an undrafted free agent following the 2009 NFL Draft.

Positives: Nice natural size and athletic ability. Good all-around football player. Reliable pass catcher with good hands and concentration. Knows how to utilize his frame to shield defenders from the ball and can catch the ball in traffic. Extends his hands nicely to catch the ball. Solid blocker who squares up on opponents and generally sustains well. Might have the frame to grow into an offensive lineman.

Negatives: Does not have getaway quickness or downfield speed. Will struggle to gain separation against NFL linebackers and defensive backs. Needs to improve his upper body strength and could be a much better blocker.

Summary: A productive all-around tight end, who can catch the ball and block, but does not provide much big-play magic. Solid late-round prospect/priority free agent who would have been drafted if not for such average strength and speed numbers.

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