This is the eighth and final entry in a series of articles examining players from the 2009 NFL Draft. The Falcoholic has almost finished cobbling together a retrospective on the season. You're probably relieved to have this over with, but for us, this is the end of an era...of love. Last on our list, seventh-round defensive tackle Vance Walker.
If I told you that our seventh round pick would be a solid contributor his first season, I think most of you would be pretty happy. By that logic, I have to assume everyone's pretty thrilled with Vance Walker.
In many ways, Walker was the ultimate Thomas Dimitroff draft pick. He filled a position of need, got a player with terrific fundamental skills and a guy who had a layer of polish on him already. It wasn't a swing for the fences type of choice, but from day one I thought VW could get reps in 2009 and he certainly did. It was kind of amazing to me that he made it all the way to the seventh round, but it could have had something to do with his relatively short and stocky frame.
It ended up being critically important because of the injuries to Peria Jerry and Trey Lewis, and Walker's locked down a spot in the defensive tackle rotation with 13 tackles and a clear level of comfort with the Falcons' defensive schemes. Frame is far from an issue for Walker, who's carrying three bills and yet still has enough explosiveness to get into the backfield. The Georgia Tech product's blend of athleticism and size makes him a candidate for the top backup to both Jonathan Babineaux and Peria Jerry, and I'm confident he's got the drive to take that position. The only thing standing his way? Another draft pick, if the Falcons think the depth chart needs a depth charge.
And since we're finishing with Walker, I think he's a good example of why this draft wasn't a total failure. Many of you seem to think that because Peria Jerry and William "C4" Moore were injured, the draft was basically a loss. It wasn't as sexy or immediately successful as 2008, true, but guys like Vance Walker could be around for a long time, providing the kind of value every good team needs. It's something to keep in mind as we move into the 2010 draft, where the talent pool is deep and Dimitroff will be scouring for bargains as late as possible.
Is Walker the next (first?) superstar defensive tackle for the Falcons? Unlikely. Is he awfully good for a seventh round pick? You bet your ass. Let's see what 2010 brings for him.
Final Grade: B