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Some Pre-draft Stuff on LB Mykal Walker

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Late Risers You Have To Watch Before 2020 NFL Draft

Have you watched any Van Jefferson this year? How about Matt Hennessy, Justin Madubuike or Terrell Burgess?

There are some great players in the 2020 NFL Draft class; if you've only watched the top prospects and haven't worked your way down to the second tier at each position, you're missing out on a deep group. I'd encourage you to go watch those Day 2 picks, even if your team doesn't draft them, they've got exciting film.


If you've already watched them? Well, congrats, you're with family and now in the deep pits of Day 3, where plenty of backups and fringe roster players reside. It can be a daunting challenge that many don't take on, and accordingly, miss the real diamonds in the rough: players taken in the back half of the draft who end up on a roster for five, 10 or 15 years. They aren't always starters but they matter a fair deal.

Here are four players I've watched in April who have at the very least exciting film, and at best, they're intriguing early Day 3 picks with upside to take snaps in sub-packages and rotate with starters. 

Casey Toohill, EDGE, Stanford

It's not enough to say that Casey Toohill is a poor man's Zack Baun; he's a destitute man's Zack Baun but that's still a quality player to have on a depth chart because of the various roles he can fill. Toohill was on-ball more than Baun was but does have good examples of buzzing the flats or sinking underneath curls from both on- and off-ball alignments.

Toohill is a better pass-rusher than expected at first glance; he doesn't have a great length or strength profile but uses his hands well to soften the edge and has good explosiveness up the arc to force quarterbacks off their spot and into the teeth of the pocket. He wouldn't be a high sack player even in a starting role but will serve well as a gadget pass-rush/blitzer on late downs who can still drop in coverage and deny a hot route. 

Toohill reminds me of Peter Kalambayi — another Stanford outside linebacker with coverage drop ability — and projects as an early special teamer who will deservedly hang out at the bottom of the roster.


James Morgan, QB, Florida International

It's important to watch James Morgan, especially if he ends up in your division or on your team. If anyone's likely to have a Gardner Minshew-like rookie performance as a late Day 3 pick, it's Morgan.

That's not to say Morgan is like Minshew as a passer; he isn't. Minshew is a brisk pocket jackrabbit with a quick trigger and average arm. Morgan has an elongated delivery with an occasionally hitchy release, a tendency to hang around in bad pockets and a God-fearing howitzer on his right shoulder. Morgan makes all arm throws that nobody in this class, save for Justin Herbert, can dream of, and at times is even too aggressive attacking tight downfield windows with screaming velocity.

Morgan won't put together a consistent passing offense, much like Minshew didn't, but if he ends up in a spot starting situation, a play-action heavy approach will let him rain passes down the field and string together explosive plays to keep an offense afloat.


Mykal Walker, LB, Fresno State

I'm still disappointed to see the lack of hype for Mykal Walker. Every year we anticipate hype for undersized linebackers with silky and explosive movement skills who have enough toughness to hang among the skyscrapers of the trenches. He projects well to the overhang/WILL role that requires hybrid players.

But in a year where Jeremy Chinn, Isaiah Simmons and Kyle Dugger are all grabbing headlines as hybrid safety/linebackers, it has been quiet for Walker. No matter. I'll gladly take a flier on Walker on Day 3 and be guaranteed a quality special-teamer as he develops into a defined role on defense. Walker should be able to play in sub-packages early as a dime linebacker that presents quality coverage ability while still be able to handle the run.

There's only 2018 film cut up on YouTube, but his performance was still strong during his first season at Fresno State.



Reggie Robinson II, CB, Tulsa

Reggie Robinson II's film was a delight to stumble on in the dreary doldrums of April scouting. He has some serious talent.

Robinson is a heavy-hitting cornerback with NFL-caliber size, strength and density. He loves to deny routes at the line of scrimmage, throwing aggressive and reckless punches to leverage contact into the sideline to immediately cancel release moves and disrupt route timing. Robinson is rough around the edges but has the necessary size and length to win on the outside.

It's the transitions at his size that are really exciting. He has really loose hips when he settles his weight and retains his base to change direction; improved technique and risk management will immediately boost his rate of staying connected, avoiding penalties and making plays on the football. Robinson is a Day 3 pick because he will struggle starting in Year 1, but his Year 2 and 3 projection are quality if he takes to coaching.








The Strength Of This Linebacker Class Is On Day 3

Three linebackers are likely to go in the first round: Isaiah Simmons, Patrick Queen and Kenneth Murray. I like Murray more so a second-round player. I don't see him as a complete player who will contribute on all three downs. He joins Malik Harrison, Markus Bailey and Willie Gay Jr. as my Day 2 grades at the position.

Six players are in the first three rounds; it's just not a great class. Limited in terms of starters, and certainly in terms of Year 1 studs — for one of those, a team better draft Simmons or Queen.

But for what the class lacks for in top-end talent, it makes up for in spades with depth. There are a lot of players I'd be comfortable in situational starting roles. For those who excel on passing downs, I'm willing to value those players near the end of Day 2. Three linebackers stand out to me as high-quality subpackage players with good developmental profiles and special-teams value — one has been in my top 10 for a while and two will be newcomers to the top 10 on my final update.

Here are three of my favorite Day 3 linebackers in a thick group of potential value selections:



Mykal Walker

LB, Fresno State

Mykal Walker hasn’t been doing this for very long, but he’s done it well when it counts. As is the story with many quality defenders in the Mountain West, Walker was a product of the lower levels of football. He played with Division II Azusa Pacific for two seasons before jumping up to the FBS level. 

How Walker took such time to get FBS attention is a mystery to me. His frame is great. He has high-quality length and height for the position while still playing with enough mass to hold up in a phone booth. But because he’s a lighter player, his movement skills shine in space and he projects more so as an overhang/hybrid player in the league than a true stack linebacker.

Consider another favorite of mine but a Day 2 talent is Appalachian State’s Akeem Davis-Gaither. He’s 6-foot-1, 224 pounds, with 31-inch arms. Walker is two inches taller, about five pounds heavier and has a couple of inches of wingspan as well. Both project to the same role, and while Davis-Gaither has better tape, Walker has the same developmental tools from the same level of competition.

Walker is one of the first players that I’d like to see off the board at Day 3 for my team. He has clear special-teams ability and starting upside to boot.



David Woodward

LB, Utah State

We’re staying in the Mountain West once again — it churns out some good defenders. David Woodward has been a favorite of mine for much longer than I’ve liked Walker, and they have similar strengths for sure. Woodward is again an undersized player, tipping the scales at 230 pounds. While he didn’t test well at the NFL Scouting Combine, he wins in the tight spaces of the tackle box with quickness and contact balance.

Woodward is a more compact player than Walker, and accordingly has better density and play strength when contact comes knocking as a stack linebacker. Woodward is only big enough to play on the weakside as a run and chase defender. With his range and play recognition, he does project as a solid developmental player at that position.

Woodward is likely to remain a subpackage player who takes the field on third down and contributes on special teams but as an LB3 or LB4 — you could do a lot worse than that.



Logan Wilson

LB, Wyoming

I promise, I’m not just listing linebackers from the Mountain West — they’re just all good! Logan Wilson has a quality processor and that’s where he wins. His play recognition and short zone spacing are both starting caliber. With his toughness and play strength, he projects well as a SAM linebacker in the NFL. He will be able to quick-breaking routes from tight ends and slot receivers while filling against the run with success.

Wilson definitely spends too much time thinking on his feet, and while I appreciate his cerebral style of play, he may need a quicker trigger to win playside. You do have to worry about Wilson’s transitional quickness in man coverage, which he rarely played at the college level. He’s a bit of a linear, downhill player who you don’t necessarily want flipping his hips and mirroring in space.

The most exciting aspect about Wilson on Day 3 is that linebackers with his combination of physicality and instinct — they rarely make it that far! I wouldn’t be shocked to see Wilson on Day 2 at all, but if he’s available in Round 4, he’s a quality pick for sure.





East West Shrine Week


2020 East/West Shrine Bowl Day 3 Recap: West Drills

Bag Drill: Mykal Walker, LB, Fresno State

During the positional breakouts, the linebackers worked a stack-and-shed drill that didn't necessarily illustrate much, besides what has been evident all week: Mykal Walker is a different player relative to the other LBs on the West squad.

Walker was a highly productive Mountain West linebacker last season after transferring from junior college, but he was listed at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds on the most recent Fresno State updates. He tipped the scales at the same number in St. Petersburg, but he simply doesn't look it. He's rocked up in the upper half and has great length (32 1/2 inch arms) to control opponents at the point of attack. During the bag drill and in the scrimmage, Walker struck his opponents with a different degree of physicality and efficacy relative to his teammates on the West squad.

I'm excited to dig back into his film.



Tony Pauline


Mykal Walker leads linebacker group

Several of the linebackers had solid days, none more than Mykal Walker of Fresno State. As I tweeted, he was used as both a 3-4 OLB – his natural position – and 4-3 MLB, the position he moved to in 2019.

Walker is a good athlete with solid instincts. He showed the ability to make plays in space at OLB and more importantly, stayed with his assignment rather than mindlessly chase the ball around the field. He’s going to be under-drafted this April.



Walterfootball (who they said we wasted a pick on Mykal but months ago they had him as a riser saying this)

Mykal Walker, LB, Fresno State
Two linebackers who had solid weeks were Fresno State's Walker and San Diego State's Tezino. Team sources singled out Walker as having the skills to compete. He could be a third-day pick who starts out as a backup linebacker and special teams contributor.

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20 minutes ago, Schwarzwald said:

Didn’t Vondre also play Will to start his career here?

Good finds :tiphat:

IMO, he will be asked to play Sam but idk who wins Nickel next to DeBo. I’d imagine Foye.

I think Foye starts at Will/ Nickle.... I think Walker will end up starting at SLB (but his snaps will probably be around Foye snap count last year... 30%)


Im interested to see if we let Neal play some Nickle LB

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Mykal Walker has some of the same traits that I saw in Jamie Collins when he came out. I think he has the tools to be an every-down LB who can do a little bit of everything. He can take on blockers (powerful hands allow him to stack and shed with ease), he can rush the passer, and he can cover a little bit. Big fan of his. 

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