Walker operated mostly as a space linebacker for the Bulldogs, with Dean handling more of the traditional Mike duties and the nation’s best defensive line making life easy for them on most snaps. Walker weighed 241 pounds at the combine but looks much leaner on film. He’s instinctive, reads and reacts well, changes directions smoothly in the open field, and isn’t afraid to stick his nose in the hole. He runs the field well, knows what he is doing in zone coverage and can handle basic man coverage chores.
Walker didn’t produce many big plays in his collegiate career, but there weren’t many big plays left for him in Georgia games. The “negatives” on his scouting report boil down to the fact that he’ll be limited to traditional Will or Mike roles in the NFL (he’s not Micah Parsons or an extra safety) and he was surrounded by splashier players. But Walker confirmed his athletic upside at his pro day. He’ll be an early Day 2 pick and capable NFL starter.
Zamir White, RB: White is a between-the-tackles grinder in the body of a shifty all-purpose back. He split carries as the “Thunder” back in a Bulldogs backfield with James Cook (lightning) and Kenny McIntosh (third-down guy), hammering out the last few minutes in close games and sometimes icing blowouts with a final big play. Cook is considered the better prospect, but White outran him at the combine (4.40 to 4.42 in the 40-yard dash), finishing fourth among running backs at the combine in speed score.
White is a patient runner who is at his best following pulling linemen. He accelerates suddenly when he sees a crease, can blast through tackles, and finishes his runs with a thud. His open-field moves are limited, but he has a nifty jump cut. White was a team captain and has earned raves for his football character. He’ll throw his body around in pass protection.
White tore both ACLs in the past: one as a prep senior in 2017 and the other in a freshman scrimmage at Georgia in 2018. White’s max-impact rushing style and lean lower body suggest that he’ll always have a high injury risk. He also caught just 17 passes in three seasons as a regular in the Georgia offense
White’s scouting report, athletic numbers, and injury history are a real grab bag. He won’t be a featured NFL runner unless he turns out to be a better receiver than Kirby Smart’s staff thought he could ever be. But the RB3 or RB4 on most depth charts is often a guy who impresses the coaches with hustle and toughness, and that’s White. And once a dude with White’s size/speed/effort profile makes the depth chart, anything can happen.
Michigan Pro Day: Bad News for David Ojabo
Edge rusher David Ojabo suffered an Achilles tendon injury at Michigan’s pro day. It was, by all reports, a scary moment and a significant setback for a player Walkthrough was rooting for after he made such a positive impression at combine interviews.
Now the good news. To echo/amplify Friend of Walkthrough and ESPN analyst Matt Miller: many NFL teams thought of Ojabo as a “redshirt” anyway. He’s a native of Scotland who is relatively new to American football and needs a lot of refinement. So Ojabo just went from a player drafted in the teens to one that some already-loaded team grabs in the late 20s. Absolute worst-case scenario: Ojabo went from the Dallas Cowboys’ 23th pick (Jerrah loves super-athletic major-program guys) to the Cowboys’ 56th pick (Jerrah loves getting big names at an injury discount.)
Michigan’s pro day was otherwise uneventful. While Walkthrough and the FO 40 consider Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux the best player in this draft class, most of the NFL world — and most importantly, the Jacksonville Jaguars — appear to prefer Aidan Hutchinson: the Jaguars’ bachelor-party spending spree on their offense in free agency makes Hutchinson the -400 favorite at DraftKings to be the first player drafted.
Minnesota Pro Day: Boye Mafe and Daniel Faalele
Like Channing Tindall, Boye Mafe has been a big winner of the whole pre-draft process. Mafe flashed potential on film and recorded seven sacks for the Golden Gophers in 2021, but he looked like an early Day 3 prospect who was a little too easy for top Big 10 tackles to contain. He performed well during Senior Bowl week; dominated the game itself; ran a 4.53s 40-yard dash at the combine; generated a ton of insidery buzz during his contacts with teams; and finally crushed his pro day with a 41.5-inch vertical leap and a 4.20s short shuttle at 257 pounds.
Walkthrough is planning a Mafe interview and feature for the not-too-distant future, so we’ll keep things succinct for now: the only reason Mafe might not be a first-round pick is because there’s a glut of talent at his position.
On the other side of the ball, tackle Daniel Faalele weighed in at 390 pounds, six pounds heavier than his scouting combine weight of 384 pounds, which already made him the heaviest combine prospect of the 21st century (and therefore probably ever).
University of Texas tackle Mike Williams, the second-heaviest player in combine history (375 pounds, 2002), could not maintain NFL conditioning and ended up as a first-round bust for the Buffalo Bills. Leonard Davis, the third-heaviest player (370 pounds, 2001), had a fine career for the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys, though not a career quite befitting a second-overall pick. Jets tackle Mekhi Becton was the most recent 360-plus prospect to be drafted in any round, and Becton a) has struggled to stay healthy in the NFL, and b) was 20 pounds lighter than Faalele at his combine.
In other words, the max threshold for a draftable offensive line prospect hovers in the 350- to 360-pound range, not because offensive linemen cannot be effective at 380-plus pounds (Jason Peters has probably been around 400 pounds since before the Eagles Super Bowl run), but because a collegiate player already carrying that weight is susceptible to injuries, conditioning lapses that leave him too chonk to move effectively, or both.
On film, Faalele looks like a hatchback parked on the end of the Golden Gophers offensive line. Google Maps claims it’s a seven-minute walk to get around him. Faalele is quick-footed for his size; otherwise we would not be talking about him at all. His pass-protection sets and technique are technically sound for a right tackle, while his run-blocking technique is basically boulder-rolling-down-a-hillside stuff. He’s not nearly as athletic or ornery as Becton was.
At 340 pounds, Faalele would be a typical Day 3 right tackle/guard prospect. At 384 pounds, he was both a high risk/reward prospect and a curiosity. At 390, he’s in the process of frightening away NFL scouts who have every reason to wonder how heavy Faalele gets when he doesn’t have a specific workout goal to shoot for.
Faalele is so unique that he’s worth a Day 3 pick, but many teams are likely taking him off their draft boards.
Central Michigan Pro Day: Kalil Pimpleton Pops
While NFL coaching royalty watched power-program prospects around the nation work out, former New York Giants head coach and current New England Patriots penitent Joe Judge took Central Michigan receiver/returner Kalil Pimpleton out into the snow to field some punts. Christian Booher of Central Michigan Life describes the scene:
In a unique twist, CMU receiver Kalil Pimpleton went outside following his performance in positional drills. He showed off his speed in the 40, clocked at 4.48 by an NFL evaluator. However, after he did agility drills and caught passes, he bounded through the tunnel and out the doors of the Chippewa Champions Center amidst snowy conditions.
Pimpleton did a variety of drills, first by catching punts in a traditional manner. This turned to him starting with his back to the punter and he finished by catching the kicks one-handed. After working briefly on kickoffs, he ended his workout by meeting with Judge and the Patriots.
See for yourself: