COMMENTARY | Tight end Delanie Walker is one of the most versatile tight ends in the NFL. At 6'0" and 242 pounds, the backup tight end can line up in a myriad of different spots offensively. His mere presence helps create matchup issues all over the field. And the 49ers were not the only ones that noticed his abilities. Walker, who was a free agent this offseason, was signed by Tennessee. He agreed to a four year contract worth $17.5 million ($8.6 guaranteed) to become a Titan. Some looked at his new deal as the Titans overpaying for his services. After all, he was the backup tight end to Vernon Davis and he only produced 21 receptions for 344 yards and three touchdowns. But there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the versatile tight end out of Central Missouri State.
Walker, who was a wide receiver in college, can line up as a wide out in some instances like he did in San Francisco. That will have an excellent affect on the offense for a couple of reasons. Delanie will more than likely draw a linebacker out of the box to defend him. If that is the case, then that takes one less person out of the box to defend one of the most explosive running backs in the NFL, Chris Johnson. That should create more space for Johnson to make big plays on the field. Walker's speed is also a valuable weapon when he is split out or in the slot. Walker runs a legit 4.46 40, so his speed could definitely cause an issue for any linebacker that tries to stop him. If Walker can get more consistent with his hands, he could definitely make some huge plays for Tennessee this season.
Another part of Walker's game is blocking. Walker could be seen helping lead the way for one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL in San Francisco. At 242 pounds, he lined up as an H-Back in the 49ers offense at times. That allowed him to be the extra guy leading the way for Frank Gore and company. With him now in the fold for Tennessee, the Titans do not have to go to the traditional tight end/fullback combo. Instead, the Titans can now use Walker along with tight end Craig Stephens to create a more versatile offensive look. More versatility means more matchup problems for the opposing defenses and could lead to weapons like wide receiver Kendall Wright having more openings on the field.
The biggest and most needed element that Walker brings to this offense is toughness and leadership. Walker may not have been the leader of the San Francisco team, but he was around that type of toughness and leadership each and every day. And not too long ago, the 49ers were in the same hole as the Titans were as a franchise. His experiences there could help him to be the leader the Titans need on the offensive side of the ball while providing the toughness necessary to win football games. Too many times, the Titans allowed teams to impose their will on them. Walker is a tough customer, so I expect him to inject his toughness and his brand of football into his teammates. And as his attitude permeates through the team, the more hardened and successful they could be.
Delanie Walker may not have been the biggest offseason signing for the Titans offense. That goes to former Buffalo offensive guard Andy Levitre. But as far as what he could mean to this offense, there is a possibility that Walker is the most important player the Titans picked up.
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