Lower in upside but higher in tackle content than our last two choices, Vance Walker is the next player we're discussing in our blogger-reader conferences.
Walker's a feel-good story for a lot of reasons. A seventh round pick out of Georgia Tech in 2009, the hulking defensive tackle was seen as a fairly polished product for a guy who survived until near the end of the draft, and that proved to be true, as he had an immediate impact in the team's rotation at the position. It just wasn't anything eye-popping.
There's a jump on this story. Please make your way over it.
As a rookie in 2009, Walker posted 13 tackles and 2 passes defensed, very impressive for a rookie who only started a single game. He did get snaps in every game of the season, which was even more impressive. Right away, I declared myself fond of him.
Walker played all 16 games again in 2010, starting one, and this time around posted 16 tackles with no other stats of note. You know how analysts talk about guys that fill up the stat sheet? Walker is not one of them by any stretch of the imagination.
I'd go so far as to say we've probably seen the true Vance Walker by this point. He's stout against the run and capable of being a big help in a rotation. He may still improve his pass rushing to the point where he could post a sack or two a season, but expecting more than that would be like expecting McDonald's to start serving filet mignon. Some things just ain't likely.
That's not a bad thing, however. Walker—or, as our own Jason Kirk called him last year, VW Bug—has hit his ceiling at this point, and he's got the lump on his head to prove it. But he's a talented player who can hold his own for 10-20 snaps per game, making him exceedingly valuable depth on a team that covets it like Cthulu does the abyss. It's unlikely he'll ever pass guys like Peria Jerry or Corey Peters on the depth chart, but he's almost certain to stave off Trey Lewis when the cuts come booming down this summer.
Every team needs a Vance Walker or two. The Falcons are glad they've got one.