Packers film room: Will Quay Walker live up to first-round selection?

The Green Bay Packers did something they hadn’t done in 16 years with their first pick in the 2022 NFL draft: select an off-ball linebacker.

Quay Walker became the first inside linebacker since AJ Hawk to get selected by the Packers in the first round. Hawk was a fifth overall pick while Walker was 22nd, but hopefully, the former Georgia Bulldog will be even more successful.

Green Bay wants their linebackers to be long and fast, exactly what Walker is. He is 6-4, 240 pounds and ran a 4.52 at the scouting combine. His size and speed compare favorably to De’Vondre Campbell, who just signed a deal worth $50 million to remain a Packer for the next five seasons. Green Bay is hoping two athletic inside linebackers will allow their defense to be even more tenacious.

In four seasons at Georgia, Walker only started a season and a half. He sat behind a loaded linebacker group during his first two years before seeing an increased role as a junior. Last season, Walker started all 15 games for one of the best defenses in the nation, finishing with 65 tackles, along with 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 25 QB pressures, and three pass breakups.

Walker is a lot like Campbell in that he can impact the game in a variety of ways. Campbell was extremely disruptive in 2021, which led to his first All-Pro selection. Following Campbell’s breakout season and a resurgence to the Packers’ linebacking corps, the hope is that Walker will bring a similar skillset while fortifying the position for seasons to come.

To get a better idea of what Green Bay saw in Walker, we are going to dive into some of his film from his junior and senior seasons. By the end, we will know what Walker brings to the table and what he needs to work on to live up to his first-round hype.

Let’s begin.


First, let’s talk about two of Walker’s best traits: range and tackling. Walker is a true sideline to sideline linebacker that rarely misses tackles. Pro Football Focus tallied only seven missed tackles during his collegiate career. For the most part, he is quick to diagnose and will take effective angles to the ball. As soon as he finds the ball, his closing speed is off the charts as he looks like a heat-seeking missile when tracking.

Walker tested in the 66th percentile for his short shuttle, which is slightly above average. However, this play really does his lateral mobility justice. Walker stops on a dime and then makes an impressive lunging tackle. It’s rare to see a guy this size move with such fluidity.

There are definitely things Walker can clean up when it comes to tackling, but for the most part, he is rock solid. He can do a better job with his pad level and getting his head across, but the fact that he does such a good job tracking the hip to stop a guy like Najee Harris in his tracks is a good sign.

Here is another example of Walker’s play strength. This is one of the most impressive clips I found of Georgia’s ILB. Evan Neal was the seventh overall pick by the New York Giants, and Walker tosses him to the side like he is taking out the garbage. Walker needs to improve at deconstructing blocks, but this shows he is more than capable.

The Packers will be able to play a lot more two-linebacker nickel with Walker and Campbell. Campbell can hold his own coverage, and Walker can as well when asked to play man to man. He is quick to break on the ball and even flashes some solid ball skills to shoot his hand in to break up the catch. By the way, this play was against Tennessee Titans’ first-round pick Treylon Burks.

Walker will be able to cover big slot receivers, tight ends, and most running backs at the next level. He really is a natural mover in man coverage thanks to his route recognition and ability to change directions. I think Walker will be very comfortable with matching routes and clamping down on stuff underneath.

Before moving on, I wanted to show two more clips of what impresses me most about Walker. His motor and competitive toughness are insane. In the first play, he nearly chases down Alabama’s burner Jameson Williams, the 12th overall pick by the Detroit Lions. Then, he is the first guy there on a bubble screen. I think Packers fans will be most impressed by Walker’s athleticism.


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Walker has a quick trigger but will need to clean up false steps. He is obviously very athletic, it’s just that his instincts aren’t quite there yet. Over time his processing should improve, and the false steps will be eliminated. Still, when looking at this play, he shows impressive range and makes the stop for a minimal gain.

We saw earlier how Walker got off a block from one of the best tackles in the draft. However, it’s something he needs to do more consistently. Too often, he will get stuck to a block and get out leveraged from his lane. Walker has the play strength and length to be a better block shedder; he just needs to improve/quicken his technique.

For as explosive as Walker is, you would think he would be a better blitzer. Georgia did a good job mixing up looks to try and get Walker pressure on the quarterback, but he didn’t take advantage of them as much as he should. Instead, he was basically a battering ram trying to bull rush blocks without having an established plan. Most of the time, his attempt was easily stopped. If Walker can develop at least a few moves that he can implement effectively, Green Bay’s defense will benefit from having another formidable pass rusher. Otherwise, he won’t add much of anything as a blitzer and will be better off spying the quarterback.

Don’t ask Walker to play man against shifty route runners in the slot. The end result won’t be pretty.

I’d like to dive deeper into Walker’s coverage ability. It’s a very important aspect of the modern-day linebacker and allows Campbell to play all three downs. Walker can hold his own in man, but zone is an entirely different story. His vision is sporadic when he isn’t tasked with watching one guy and will lead to open throwing lanes for the quarterback. It will need to be coached up, or opposing offenses will try to pick on Walker.

Look at how easily Walker is manipulated by the quarterback. He can probably move Walker wherever he wants to deliver the ball to his desired spot. The Packers will need to harp on Walker’s responsibilities in zone. Right now, it’s just a matter of knowing where to be.


After watching the film, I can honestly say I’m not as excited about the pick as when it was first announced. Walker has a lot of desirable traits, but there are a lot of signs that show inexperience. Luckily, pretty much all of his weaknesses are things he can improve on and having Campbell around will certainly help. Walker should be watching and learning from Campbell as much as possible to improve his football IQ and become a better all-around player.

During his rookie season, expect to see Walker flying around the field on Sunday but also expect to see some head-scratching plays that will make you question why the Packers didn’t wait to draft a linebacker until the second or third round. It seems like they are expecting Walker to put everything together and become the next Campbell before his contract expires. If Walker can turn into an All-Pro or Pro Bowl linebacker than can defend the run and cover at a high level, using a first-round pick will have been worth it.


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