#18 LB Anthony Walker (6’1 | 235 | 4.52)
Red-shirt junior who hasn’t declared for the draft yet, but would likely be an early day two pick if he decides to. Walker has been the heart of the Wildcat’s defense the last two seasons with 218 total tackles, 29 tackles for loss, six sacks, and five forced fumbles.
Walker has good speed, but it’s his instincts and ability to read plays quickly that allow him to play faster than his timed speed. He spent most of this season in the backfield, due to his ability to figure out where the play is going before being blocked. Walker lacks the bulk to take on NFL linemen consistently, so his ability to read plays quickly at the next level will be key to his success at the next level if he’s going to stay inside.
He excels in both stopping the run and coverage and could play inside linebacker in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, but I think his best fit might be as a weak-side OLB in a 4-3 scheme. Walker has drawn comparisons to Lavonte David and might be best off playing the same position. Wherever he ends up, Walker has the potential to be a game-changing linebacker at the next level.
Projection: 2nd round
#80 WR Austin Carr (6’1 | 200 | 4.56)
First-team All-Big10 receiver who finished 12 nationally in both receiving yards (1,196) and touchdowns (12). He was by far the Wildcats most consistent receiver with at least four catches in every game this season.
Carr has a cool story as a former walk-on, who eventually became a full scholarship player, and then a team captain this year. His off-field achievements are impressive as well; Carr has earned Academic All-Big Ten, Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, and Irving Kabiller Memorial Award for Excellence in Character, Commitment, and Community honors this year. He’s also visited East Asia as a member of Athletes in Action and has sung the national anthem twice for the NU softball team.
NU Coach Pat Fitzgerald raves about Carr’s character, saying he’s, “honored to be his coach”. He’s clearly an interesting guy off the field, but on it, Carr may be the best slot receiver in the nation. Pro Football Focus had a statistical breakdown on why Carr was the most effective slot receiver in the nation through right games.
Carr’s pedestrian size and measurables may not be enough to get NFL team’s attention in the draft this year, but his elite production and solid character should earn him a spot on the draft’s third day.
Projection: 6th-7th round