Javon Walker, WR
(6024, 215, 4.34-4.45 coming out of college) Florida State
Notes: Born Javon Lataff Walker, 10/14/78, in Galveston, Texas. Attended St. Thomas More High School in Lafayette, Louisiana. Holds the record from his high school for most career touchdowns, most touchdowns in a game, and longest play from scrimmage. Rushed for 1,900 yards and 29 touchdowns, had 300 receiving yards, 4 TD catches, 2 kickoff returns and one punt return for touchdown as a prep senior. Also competed at the state track championships as a long-jump and triple-jumper. Was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 12th round of the 1997 Major League Baseball draft, and spent three years in the minor leagues of the organization, making it to the AA level with Portland (Maine) of the Eastern League.
College: Began his college career at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi, where he was a teammate of Deion Branch (Seahawks). Let the Bobcats to a perfect 12-0 record and the junior college national championship as he caught 37 passes for 735 yards (19.9 avg.) and 8 touchdowns. Considered the top JC wideout in the nation as a sophomore, he caught 61-906-7 (14.9 avg.) in 1999. Enrolled at Florida State in 2000; caught 20-313-3 (15.7 avg.) as a junior at FSU. Closed out his senior year (2001) catching 45-944-7 (21.0 avg.). Majored in social science.
Pre-Draft: Measured 6024 (6'-2 ½"), 210 pounds coming out of college...18 reps at 225 pounds...1.50 10-yard dash...2.50 20-yard dash...4.39 40-yard dash...39 ½-inch vertical jump...10'-6" broad jump...4.05 short shuttle...11.86 long shuttle...6.86 three-cone drill.
Pro: Originally a first-round draft pick (No. 20 overall) by the Green Bay Packers in 2002. Played in 15 games (starting 2) as a rookie in 2002; catching 23-319-1 (13.9 avg.). Played in all 16 games (starting 3) in 2003; caught 41-716-9 (17.5 avg.). Started 12-of-16 games in 2004; caught 89-1,382-12 (15.5 avg.) and went to the Pro Bowl. A holdout in training camp, he finally came in and played in just one game in 2005, catching 4-27, before blowing out his knee (torn ACL) and missing the remainder of the season.
He was traded to the Denver Broncos for a second-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft on April 29, 2006. He signed a five-year contract worth more than $40 million, including roster bonuses totaling $15 million in 2007 and 2008. Came back from the knee injury to start all 16 games in 2006 as he caught 69-1,084-8 (15.7 avg.). Following the Broncos' season finale against the 49ers, Walker was in a vehicle that was shot at in downtown Denver, killing teammate Darrent Williams. After Williams was shot, he fell into Walker's lap. In memory of Williams, Walker wore a hair style called the "fro-hawk", made famous by Williams, to begin the 2007 season. Played in 8 games (starting 5) and caught 26-287-0 (11.0 avg.) in 2007. He was released by the Broncos on February 29, 2008.
On March 4, 2008, the Oakland Raiders signed Walker to a six-year, $55 million contract that included $16 million in guaranteed money.
Just after 7 a.m. on June 16, 2008, Walker was found unconscious in Las Vegas, Nevada, on a street just off the Las Vegas Strip. The previous evening, he had been at Body English, a nightclub at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, and left at approximately 5 a.m. the following morning. After being found unconscious, Walker was taken to a local hospital with what police described as "significant injuries," including a concussion and a battered face. He was listed in fair condition and released from the hospital on June 18. Police said Walker was the victim of an apparent robbery, as a large amount of cash and some jewelry were taken from him. Police ultimately arrested two suspects. On July 7, 2010, Deshawn Lamont Thomas, an 11-time convicted felon, was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for his part in the crime.
Walker opened training camp on the PUP list before returning to start 7-of-8 games for the Raiders in 2008. He caught 15-196-1 (13.1 avg.) before going down due to injury in November. He was limited by hamstring problems, but also claimed to be healthy and ready for action, yet played in just 3 games in 2009 and did not catch a pass. He was waived by the Raiders on March 10, 2010.
During an interview following his release from the Raiders, Walker stated that he is 100 percent healthy and wants to continue his NFL career. He stated that he was willing to sign for a contract for the league minimum with incentives to earn more for a team willing to give him an opportunity.
After a tryout and physical on August 20, 2010, he was expected to sign with the Vikings on Monday, August 23.
Positives: Gifted athlete with near-prototype size and speed. Catches the ball naturally. Understands the offense, can run all the routes, go inside, work the sidelines, get downfield and run after the catch. A Pro Bowl-caliber playmaker when healthy and focused who has had two 1,000-yard receiving seasons during his pro career.
Negatives: Has been injured and/or predominantly unproductive each of the last three seasons. He brings with him a shaky off-field track record and questionable judgment, character and toughness. Is he healthy and how much does he have left?
Summary: A high-reward, low-risk signing by the Vikings. Walker offers significant upside. On a team with receivers coach George Stewart and the veteran leadership the Vikings offer, Walker could emerge and be a real playmaker teaming with Favre again in an offense in which he is familiar if he can stay on the field.