Kurt Warner. James Harrison. Dick “Night Train” Lane. Antonio Gates.
Over the years, there have been several undrafted free agents who have left indelible marks on the game of football. Despite not being seen as worthy enough of an NFL Draft selection, these players have overcome the odds and have gone on to become successful NFL players.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to take a look at of 10 of the undrafted free agents that the Chicago Bears signed this offseason to try and determine who stands the best chance of making it to the 53-man roster. In this article, we’ll take a look at the player who ranks fifth on the list: Maryland alumnus Cavon Walker.
Walker is coming off of a somewhat underwhelming senior season, as he totaled just 1.5 sacks and six tackles for a loss. He was able to hit a personal best 38 tackles, though, and had a career-high six tackles against Minnesota this season. Walker had 3.5 sacks, nine tackles for a loss and 31 tackles in 2016. He started his collegiate career as a linebacker at 229 pounds, but bulked up and moved to defensive line, where he played for his last three years at Maryland.
Walker was a three-star recruit out of high school and was on the All-Met Second Team in his senior year at Friendship Collegiate Academy in Washington, D.C. The communications major was an honor roll student and has served as a volunteer at Positive Choices Football Camp in the Washington D.C. area.
There are no individual cut ups of Walker available online, but there are several highlight videos of his on YouTube, as well as full Maryland games.
At six-foot-two and 284 pounds, Walker is slightly undersized for a 3-4 defensive end, which is where he fits in Chicago’s scheme. While he can’t change his height, gaining a little bit of weight could help his chances of carving out a long NFL career for himself. His smaller stature doesn’t affect his play, though, as Walker is a strong and tenacious player. He put up 31 reps on the bench press at his Pro Day, which would have tied him for the sixth-best total among defensive linemen at the 2018 NFL Combine. He does a good job of converting speed to power and has good drive in his lower body.
While Walker’s production isn’t very good, his tape shows that he is a constant force in the backfield. He has good explosion off the ball for a player his size, and he can plug up holes against the run well. He’s good at reading option plays and does a great job of bringing ball carriers down in space. His motor also runs high on a consistent basis: he rarely takes a play off.
One concern in Walker’s game is his inability to finish plays, especially on passing plays. He has the ability to shed blocks and to overwhelm offensive linemen with explosiveness, but he isn't very good at getting sacks. He doesn’t have fantastic speed in space and he can’t turn the corner very well, which limits his ability to get to the quarterback before he can get the pass off.
Chances of making the 53-man roster
Walker faces pretty steep odds of making the 53-man roster. The defensive linemen on the final roster seem to be set in stone, so the former Terrapin likely won’t make the team this year. However, he has enough potential to make him a player worth keeping on the practice squad. If the Bears stick with that approach, then Walker could end up finding his way onto the active roster at some point during the regular season.
Jacob Infante is a Chicago Bears writer at SB Nation’s Windy City Gridiron. He is also an NFL Draft writer at USA Today SMG’s Draft Wire. He can be reached through Twitter @jacobinfante24 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.