By: Jordy Ramirez 7/27/2022
The two Georgia Bulldogs drafted in the first round will be asked to contribute in a considerably large fashion during their first season and add to what is widely considered a top 10 defense in the NFL. With that being said, here is where I think Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt’s strengths and weaknesses are heading into training camp.
Walker, the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft, was not a popular selection to go in the first round mock drafts prior to the draft. The Georgia linebacker is all of 6’4”, 240 pounds from what I could see at OTA’s/rookie minicamp and he moves with speed, twitch, balance, and flexibility. Walker has an old-school linebacker build with the physical traits of the new breed NFL linebackers. Much has been made of Walker’s ability to cover up running backs, tight ends, and even wide receivers from time to time (Walker had a PBU while in coverage against 18th overall pick Treylon Burks). This even showed up in this year’s off-season workouts. Walker’s ability to mirror, break on, and anticipate routes shined when the offensive player is supposed to have the advantage in these non-padded practices. Walker seemed to always be in position to make a play on the ball and did so in many reps. Walker coupled with De’Vondre Campbell has the potential to be considered one of the best pass coverage LB duos in the NFL. From what I have seen from the Packers first selection in this year’s draft, I do not see pass coverage being an issue. It is the run game where I see the biggest flaw in Walker’s game. Walker’s problem is not tackling as he meets ball carriers with stopping power, minimizes yards after contact, and rarely misses tackles. Where he struggles is diagnosing the run, over pursuing the ball carrier (which leads to cutback lanes) and trusting his eyes/instincts to trigger downhill. Seeing how Joe Barry and Green Bay’s defensive coaching staff implement Walker into different packages based on down and distance with Krys Barnes still in the mix will be something to keep a close eye on during camp.
I have heard the statement “Get Kenny Clark help!” more than I cared to this past season and Green Bay hopes to have done so by drafting Wyatt with the 28th overall pick. At 6’3”, 304 pounds, the former Georgia Bulldog has great interior defensive line versatility. This will allow for Joe Barry to use many different fronts to utilize the varying skill sets of the players at his disposal in Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, TJ Slaton, Jarran Reed, and Wyatt. Where I see Wyatt’s game blossoming in his first season for the Packers is in pass rushing downs. Green Bay’s primary nickel front will probably look something like Gary, Wyatt, Clark, and Smith. Wyatt has the chance to flourish as the proven players around him may receive more attention in pass protection schemes which would in turn allow for more one-on-one opportunities. Wyatt has great get off, pop in his hands, twitchy feet, lateral quickness, and incredible speed (4.77 40 yd) for an interior defensive lineman which will lead to success in those passing downs. Like the story with his teammate at Georgia (Quay Walker), my concerns with Wyatt come in the run game. From what I have seen on tape, Wyatt tends to lower his head at the point of attack, get washed out of plays because of his inability to anchor, and get swallowed up by blocks because of his lack of length (restricts his ability to stack and shed) which may only be magnified more in the NFL. I see Wyatt being more of a rotational player to start in Green Bay’s base defense and utilized more in obvious passing situations. I would guess Wyatt’s usage will vary on a week-to-week basis and be more dependent on run scheme (I see him doing better against zone running schemes than man/gap) and personnel groupings.