Updated Sept. 18, 2016
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.
Entering the 2016 season, NFL sources felt that linebacker had the potential to be a position of strength in the 2017 NFL Draft. They felt that inside linebackers like Florida's Jarrad Davis, Ohio State's Raekwon McMillan, Alabama' Reuben Foster, and Northwestern's Anthony Walker could all end up grading out as early-round talents. Two games into the season, sources have said though they have been disappointed in the way that Walker has looked compared to his 2015 tape.
The reason that Walker has disappointed NFL evaluators is a dramatic weight gain. He was previously listed at 6-foot-1, 225-pounds, and teams liked that he was a fast sideline-to-sideline defender. He had a great 2015 season as he totaled 122 tackles with 20.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, four passes batted, one forced fumble and one interception. Sources felt that while Walker could stand to add weight to take on and shed blocks in the NFL, they would have preferred that he do that in a NFL team's strength and conditioning program.
Walker is now weighing in the 240s while being listed at 245 pounds. Teams feel that the added weight has slowed Walker down and have diminished some of his bread-and-butter attributes of the speed to fly around the field. Walker has recorded 14 tackles with one pass broken up, so he is on pace to fall well short of his 2015 production.
According to teams, the added weight and change in play is hurting Walker's draft grade, so returning for his senior year and slimming down may not be a bad idea.