UL's Walker shocked Detroit takes him high in NFL Draft
Even Tracy Walker figured it would not be until sometime Saturday that he heard his name called.
Wow, was he ever wrong.
Walker — a UL senior safety from Brunswick High in Brunswick, Georgia — was selected Friday night by the Detroit Lions in the third round, 82nd overall, of the NFL Draft.
“I was realistically waiting until Saturday,” an elated Walker told The Daily Advertiser minutes after being picked.
The draft’s fourth through seventh rounds are Saturday.
Walker was, however, watching the second and third rounds unfold on television Friday night with his family in Georgia.
“It’s a blessing that Detroit even had me that high,” he said. “I’m so happy right now.”
Walker, not even a first team All-Sun Belt Conference selection after his senior season, was pegged as a mid-rounds selection by most draft prognosticators.
NFL.com projected that he’d go in the fifth or sixth round, so it’s no wonder he was shocked to be called as early as he was.
“It’s a great feeling,” Walker said.
“Definitely it’s a blessing, I promise you. Detroit won’t regret that. I coming in, and I’m gonna be noticed. Oh, man. Actually, I’m ready to win the Super Bowl now — go there to get it.”
Walker becomes the highest drafted Cajun since now-retired NFL cornerback Charles "Peanut" Tillman went to the Chicago Bears in the second round, 35th overall, of the 2003 draft. Another former UL defensive back, Bill Bentley, played for the Lions after being selected by Detroit in the third round, 85th overall, in 2011.
One of Walker’s teammates, running back Elijah McGuire, went to the New York Jets in the sixth round of last year’s draft.
Another former Cajun, defensive lineman Christian Ringo, was taken by the Green Bay in the sixth round in 2014 and now plays for Detroit.
Walker said he also has a cousin, cornerback Darius Slay, who played at Brunswick High and Mississippi State, and who has spent the past five seasons with the Lions.
“It’s definitely a great opportunity for me to get out there and play with those guys,” said Walker, who visited the Dallas Cowboys before UL’s Pro Day earlier this month and also had visits planned to Carolina and Tennessee.
Walker, a starter since his redshirt freshman season in 2014, was UL’s leading tackler last year with 97.
The 6-foot-1, 212-pounder had eight career interceptions, including two last year and three in 2016, while playing 50 games with 42 starts for the Cajuns, who beat Nevada in the New Orleans Bowl when he was a redshirt freshman and went to the same postseason game when he was a junior.
Walker was only a third team All-Sun Belt after last season, and — underappreciated and often overlooked — he never made a postseason all-league first team.
But he played in the prestigious East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Florida, last January, then ran an impressive 4.51 seconds 40-yard dash to gain the notice of pro scouts at the recent NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
Next step: training camp with the Lions and, he hopes, an NFL debut later this year.
“I’m ready to get up there and get started, immediately,” Walker said.