Consistency Could Pay Off in a Big Way for Deone Walker


If Vince Marrow is right, Deone Walker will be a high draft pick in 2025. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Kentucky associate coach Vince Marrow often talks with UK defensive line coach Anwar Stewart as well as defensive coordinator Brad White about the NFL draft possibilities for Deone Walker.

The 6-6, 348-pound Walker had 55 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 quarterback sacks during his sophomore season in 2023.

“He can go anywhere from one to 12 in the draft,” Marrow said. “He’s a very unique talent. He is a big guy who can move. He won’t have no off the field stuff. He’s a very nice guy off the field.

“I told (NFL) scouts he could be the first pick (in the 2025 NFL draft). It is up to Deone. He had (shoulder) surgery in the offseason. I know Stew is really going to drive him hard. That’s why I see him going so high (in the draft). He’s a definite high first-round pick.”

Early 2025 mock drafts certainly back up what Marrow and the UK coaches believe.

ESPN draft analyst Jordan Reid put Walker 19th in his recent mock draft.

“Interior defenders who are 6-6 and 348 pounds almost never move as well as Walker, who is nimble-footed for his size. He collected 7.5 sacks last season, and 30 of his 39 pressures came while aligned as a defensive tackle. Walker has quick hands and a wide array of moves as a pass-rusher, but his pad level has to improve,” Reid wrote.

Randall Brown of Fantasy Pros has Walker 10th in his mock draft because of his lateral movement and size.

“His length presents mismatches on the interior as he can split double teams and win in one-on-one matchups. Last season, he had 51 pressures, leading all interior defensive linemen. He could do that and a whole lot more this season,” Brown wrote.

CBS Sports analyst Josh Edwards, who covers Kentucky football, is even higher on Walker and put him fourth in his 2025 mock draft.

“If he can play with consistency and show his effectiveness as a pass rusher, then it will be hard to keep him from being one of the top 10 prospects taken,” Edwards said. “I just want to see consistent use of pass rush moves.

“In the NFL, everyone is big so you can not just win with power and strength. An interior defender that could be taken as highly as Deone is projected must be able to apply a pass rush consistently.

“When he locks in mentally, he can take over the game but there are other moments when he blends in. If he can continue to present himself as a supreme talent in the SEC, then he will have an opportunity to be taken early.”

8 Responses

  1. I think he will probably match last years numbers. Our defense if going to be so much better this year. I think JJ Weaver who will finally be fully healthy will have around 10 sacks. Then you have Pop who is going to be blowing up the plays. Jackson will much improved I think he is the most underrated player on the team. I think he has led Kentucky in tackles the last 2 years and this will probably be his 3rd year doing so. Their is no reason he shouldn’t be at least a 2nd team all SEC defender. Plus I think Silver makes a major move this season. Oxendine will be another guy who has a absolutely humongous season. Throw in Hayes, Rybka, and Rather and our front 7 is just nasty. Its definitely the best front 7 I’ve ever seen here at Kentucky and I’m 41 years old. Also the secondary is going to be much improved from last year. Hairston is a first team All SEC guy. I think Dunn will be much improved too and Wallen the Michigan transfer will surprise alot of people this year. Our safeties will be a year older with more experience than last year and with the Alabama transfer Khristian Story coming in we are locked and loaded on defense. It just kills me how great both our offensive and defensive lines are going to be this year and the game is won in the trenches. Then our linebackers, Just Weaver, Pop,Jackson and Rather are going to be a nightmare for opposing teams. I’m super excited. Usually I say we might be overrated not this year. We are extremely underrated. Like I said 8-4 is the floor and would be a major disappointment. 10-2 is the ceiling maybe even 11-1, but let me not get ahead of myself

    1. Thanks for your detailed analysis of players. It’s helpful, informative & even encouraging!

      1. No problem I study each players production and movement. I used to help my uncle evaluate talent for the Miami dolphins. He had a job in the front office.

    2. I believe you may be correct about this possibly being the best front 7 UK has had for quite a while. The ’77 team was pretty darn good with Art Still leading the way. That was the best UK team I’ve ever seen in my lifetime (61 years old) 10-1 record. All UKs offense needed to do was score a few points and the D would hold the other team. The one loss on their record was a crazy matchup against Baylor on 2nd game of the season. Game was at Baylor and the field temp was well over 100°. Our QB got injured early and Baylor’s sideline had big fans blowing cold air on their team but not on the Cats side. That UK team demolished the SEC that year but were on probation. My dad took me to couple of home games and 2 away games. One was at Penn St. when they were always a top contender with Joe Pa coaching. Came down to a UK goal line stand and we could hear and nearly feel the hits the Cats laid on them to win the game. Also got to go to Athens to see them destroy Georgia 33-0 in front of Prince Charles (now King).

      GO CATS!

      1. Yes… the loss to Baylor was a fluke. My Dad said UK would
        Not lose another game & he was right. UK absolutely had the best team in the nation. Art Still on D, the big center Jeff VanNote (played for years w/Atlanta Falcons), Ramsey & many other talented players on both sides of the ball.

        UK will need to win the National Playoff to top that team.

        Hoping the UGA transfer can connect with the receivers (who need to run the correct routes & not drop the ball) who showed a lot of potential as FR and the D led by Deonne the Giant and a lot of talented as well as experienced D players.

        I have high expectations for 2024 & 2025 and sure hope we don’t have another lackluster season.

  2. Walker was one of my favorites the past 2 seasons and he will be even better in 2024, with an even greater influence on other players to encourage them to raise their level of intensity & production.

  3. We really need Campbell to commit we need alot of defensive recruits this year because we are losing alot of production. We also need some more playmakers on offense.

  4. Listened to the UK/UGA game on the radio that year. Larry (?) Munson ( their version of Cawood Ledford ) said during the second half “ never seen this before, the Dogs are actually running away from the Cats “!!
    I’ve always called that “ the year of the Cat “. BB team wasn’t too shoddy !

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