Green Bay Packers

Inside the prospects: Georgia’s two defenders

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The Green Bay Packers went with two of Georgia’s defenders in the first round. Here is insight from the man who covered them, The Athletic’s Seth Emerson

The Green Bay Packers zagged when everyone else thought they were going to zig. Just about every mock draft simulation had them penciled in to take one of the big wide receivers in Thursday’s first round.

Instead, they opted for more help in their front seven.

If you’re trying to build an elite defense, the University of Georgia is a good place to start. The Packers’ last three first-round picks have come from Georgia.

To get a little more insight on these two, I asked a few questions to Seth Emerson, the Georgia beat writer for The Athletic.

You can check out the rest of this series throughout the course of the offseason over at Game On Wisconsin. 

Quay Walker

This is the first time the Packers have taken an off-ball linebacker since AJ Hawk. It kind of caught me by surprise. Was their first round buzz around Walker on campus?

Everyone always knew he was good: Walker was a top 50 prospect and the only reason he didn’t play more was the talent around him at inside linebacker. The raw talent was evident, it was just a matter of whether NFL teams would want to see more actual production in college. Apparently not: First round probably surprised people, but not because they don’t think Walker’s talent level isn’t worthy of it.

Walker played next to Nakobe Dean all season. What did those two do well to complement each other?

Walker actually shared a lot of snaps with Channing Tindall – a third-round pick – but Walker did end up with the most snaps of any linebacker. (Dean was essentially an every-down starter while Walker and Tindall were co-starters, but Dean was rested more at the end of blowouts.) Dean and Walker played off each other well because Dean was the typical captain of the defense, the smart leader who relied mostly on speed, while Walker could play more on the edges, using his length as much as athleticism.

Walker’s long arms lends to the belief that he has ability to cover in the middle of the field. Is that a strength of his game? 

 

It’ll be interesting to see where Walker’s strengths – and weaknesses – emerge at the NFL level, where ironically he’ll have the chance to be exposed more than he was at Georgia, while also having the chance to make more plays. Georgia just didn’t need him to do that much with the other talent around him. Walker’s strength is probably as a pass-rusher from the inside – he was an outside linebacker in high school – but yes with his size he can be a problem for offenses, and cover some of those good tight ends.

How is he as a run defender?

This is another area Walker simply didn’t have to do too much because of the guys around him; Jordan Davis and company led a front that ranked first or second nationally in run defense three straight years. But Walker was able to benefit from that and clean up some of those. His size and speed give him the ability to make tackles in space and in traffic.

Devonte Wyatt

Another surprise in that he was older, but the Packers were connected to him a lot, did you all get the sense he’d be a first-round lock as well?
Not that he was a lock, and it would have been a shock this time last year to tell people Wyatt – who was a senior but returned for an extra year – would be a first-round pick. But he’s a guy who just got better every year he was around, and benefitted in 2021 from the exposure that Georgia’s season brought him and the entire defense.
The Packers have long needed help for Kenny Clark. Jerry Montgomery, the DL Coach said Green Bay needed an interior rusher. Is that Wyatt’s best skill set?

Wyatt was a big part, literally and figuratively, of Georgia’s run defense being basically impenetrable the last couple years. But he can also push the pocket on pass plays and if there’s an opening he can burst through it, as he did a few times his senior season, making a name for himself.
Brian Gutekunst mentioned Wyatt “stubbing his toe” while he was at Georgia when asked about potential immaturity.  Based on your time covering him Is that something you think he has put in the past?
There was a domestic violence arrest in Feb. 2020, but the charges were dropped. If there was something other than that it wasn’t publicly known.
There were boards that said Wyatt was a better NFL Prospect than former teammate Jordan Davis. Is that something you can envision as well?
 
Possible, but not likely. It would likely be if Davis is a bust in the NFL. Wyatt strikes as more of a solid, dependable and longtime NFL starter. That doesn’t mean Wyatt won’t be a star, because like I said he just always improved at Georgia, and he could carry that into the NFL.

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