Kentucky received its seventh commitment of the 2014 class when Our Lady of Good Counsel High (Olney, Md.) safety Kobie Walker made his decision.
And while he plays free safety for the Falcons, Kentucky recruited him to play outside linebacker in its 4-3 base defense, and his ability to run and his length makes it a good fit.
Walker chose the Wildcats from a number of offers, including Rutgers, Syracuse, North Carolina State and Boston College, but what are they truly getting?
FOX Sports NEXT used several camp/combine performances, live game evaluation and his junior highlights to come up with an in-depth scouting report.
What to Like
The transition to outside linebacker makes sense because of his size. He’s 6-foot-3, and he recently weighed in at 215 pounds, so to think he can remain at safety is unrealistic, and he brings versatility to the spot.
His length and coverage skills from being a safety will allow him to play on the strong side and cover the tight end, providing he adds enough size and is comfortable playing that close to the line of scrimmage. He already shows an ability to read a block and get off it as a safety.
Walker’s ability to run, particularly his straight line speed, could also make him an asset as a weakside linebacker where he can pursue more and chase down plays. He already likes to play physical, so he won’t shy away from contact being closer to the line of scrimmage.
For more specific examples, let’s take a look at his junior film (below), beginning with the second play. He reads the play well and makes a quick burst toward the play. He also shows an ability to close quickly and shut down a possible bigger play.
As for his ability to get off a block and get to the ball carrier, move ahead to the 2:10 mark. This is something that translates well to linebacker. He sees the block coming and gets around it to tackle the ball carrier. He’s quick, and decisive in his movement.
Finally, at the 3:50 mark, Walker shows his ability to play in space as he recognizes a play and darts to the sideline to get to the ball carrier. Again, a quick start and speed are the most important elements, and he has both.
What Needs to Improve
Walker is raw, but the good thing is much of the area he needs to improve upon is in technique. Size and athleticism is not an issue, so the base is present. Strength also has to increase but that is expected with anyone making the move from safety to linebacker. His change of direction is fine. Not eye-popping, but good.
The biggest issues with Walker are his tackling style and his pre-snap readiness.
First, he tackles too high. Time and again he attacks the upper body of ball carriers, and in college that is a sure way to miss the tackle. He also doesn’t get squared up enough times to deliver a form tackle. Instead, he relies on his athleticism and still makes the play.
Also, too often he is walking around and not set in his position at the snap of the ball. Savvy quarterbacks will capitalize on that time and again, so he needs to show urgency in getting lined up quickly.
On the film, this is evident with the play at the 1:43 mark. His hips are turned to the outside, so he will be slowed in making a play to the middle of the field.
As for his tackling, it is evident throughout the tape, but we will look at the 2:14 mark. His tackle is too high.
Walker is physically talented, which is why Kentucky pushed for him. His body control isn’t great, but that will improve as his technique develops. He will have to refine his play, but he has the talent and size to be a solid contributor after a year or two in the program.