It’s been six months since Charles Walker left the Oklahoma Sooners to start working full-time towards the NFL Draft, but the ramifications of that decision won’t be fully known until Walker’s name is called in Philadelphia.
Walker, a 6-2, 310 pound defensive tackle, certainly has the physical skill set to contribute at the next level. But with lingering questions about his departure from the team, where will Walker land?
Walker grew up in the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, where he lived until Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005. Walker bounced between a few states after that, eventually moving back to NOLA and, finally, to the Dallas area, where he attended South Garland High School.
Walker grew up with basketball dreams, but finally tried football and ended up with a three-star ranking and an Oklahoma offer, which he accepted in January of 2013. Walker’s daughter Jade was also born that year.
Walker redshirted in 2013, played eight games in 2014 and truly broke out in OU’s Playoff-bound 2015 season. But a concussion sidelined him for the Orange Bowl loss to Clemson. Walker suffered another one against TCU in 2016, the effects of which supposedly lingered long after.
In 24 career games at Oklahoma, Walker made 53 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. He broke up five passes — four in just four games in 2016 — and forced a fumble in 2015.
Though he had yet to start a game, Walker was named a preseason All-American before the 2016 season.
After Walker suffered his TCU concussion, his recovery timeline stretched on as his symptoms persisted. On Oct. 18, just over two weeks after TCU, Walker posted a Twitter message about his situation and said, essentially, that he would never quit on his team.
Which is what made it particularly strange a month later when he did.
#Oklahoma star DT Charles Walker told coach Bob Stoops that he's leaving the team immediately to prepare for the draft. He's projected high— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 15, 2016
Walker cited a need to provide for his daughter and avoid jeopardizing his NFL career, but that didn’t stop certain individuals from criticizing his decision. One of his critics was his own defensive coordinator, Mike Stoops, who claimed that Walker quit on his teammates.
Walker has good burst after the snap and quickly engages his man. He’s more athletic than most big uglies, and moves with speed in the backfield and when chasing down runners. Walker also has a good sense for the passing game and often gets his hands up at the right time, as demonstrated by his break-up totals.
There’s a perception that Walker’s occasional ineffectiveness has more to do with effort than talent, which is good news for NFL teams who feel they can bring out the best from him. He can be a disruptive inside presence for any team.
NFL Combine results:
- 40-yard dash: 4.96 seconds
- Bench press: 25 reps
- Vertical: 28 inches
- Broad jump: 107 inches
- 3 cone drill: 7.89 seconds
- 20-yard shuttle: 4.96 seconds
WalterFootball is a little more bullish, projecting Walker as high as the third round. FOX Sports has him going in the fourth, with the 111th overall pick to the Bears, and NFLMocks.com also thinks of him as a fourth or fifth-round guy.
Clearly, there are a lot of possibilities for Walker. The only thing everyone seems to agree on is that Walker will get drafted and get another chance to demonstrate his commitment this fall.