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Mel Kiper lists Colts’ Anthony Walker as potential early-impact player from rounds 4-7

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NCAA Football: Outback Bowl-Northwestern vs Tennessee Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more interesting Colts draft picks is Anthony Walker, since he was a fifth round pick who could still have a chance to compete for a significant role.

The Colts drafted Walker with their eighth and final selection a few weeks ago, and given the state of their inside linebacker position Walker will be competing with several others at a position that is “wide open.”

It makes sense, then, that Walker would be on a list of mid-to-late round picks to watch, and sure enough ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. recently listed him as one of his projected early-impact players from rounds 4-7. Here’s what he wrote about Walker:

New Colts general manager Chris Ballard has made the defense a priority this offseason -- and rightfully so -- with smart, low-cost free-agent signings at outside linebacker (Jabaal Sheard and John Simon) while using a first-round pick on a safety (Malik Hooker) and Day 2 picks on a corner (Quincy Wilson) and pass-rusher (Tarrell Basham).

At least one inside linebacker spot is open, however, with D'Qwell Jackson gone and new signing Sean Spence likely to take the other spot. Could Walker, who had 20.5 tackles for loss at Northwestern in 2015, compete there? He is my seventh-ranked inside linebacker in the class, a sound tackler with good measurables (6-1, 238). Walker should be a menace on kickoffs and punts.

I would argue that both inside linebacker spots are currently open for the Colts, though Kiper is right in saying that Spence will likely take one of the spots (at least, he’d probably be a favorite right now). That means that Walker will have a very real chance to compete, however. He’ll be in the mix along with returning players Edwin Jackson and Antonio Morrison as well as free agent signings Sean Spence and Jon Bostic. It’s unclear who will win that competition, but Anthony Walker will be able to truly compete.

He had a very productive collegiate career at Northwestern too and is an incredibly smart player who should be able to pick up the Colts’ defensive scheme quickly and who could assist in calling plays defensively.

Here’s the bottom line: if you’re looking for a potential early-impact defensive player from this year’s draft, the Colts are the place to start. With how bad their defense has been in recent years they’ve made a number of additions, including using six of their eight picks in the draft on defensive talent. First round safety Malik Hooker and second round cornerback Quincy Wilson are both likely to start, while third round pass rusher Tarell Basham will likely have at least a situational pass rush role early on.

And Walker? Well, he could compete for a starting spot and at the very least compete for playing time. The position is wide open, and he’s a solid player. Both of those things together make it very appropriate for him to wind up on Kiper’s list of potential early-impact players from some of the later rounds.