A popular series from last draft cycle is returning yet again at Stampede Blue. Last off-season, I interviewed over 40 prospects that could eventually be fits for the Indianapolis Colts in the 2019 NFL Draft. As a result, we were able to find out a lot about two Colts who went on to eventually be drafted by the team in Marvell Tell II and Khari Willis. This year I hope to interview even more prospects so you all can get an inside look at these player’s accomplishments and mindsets going into this next draft.
Our next prospect is defensive end Andre Walker from Houston Baptist University. A super productive and quick edge rusher, Walker can be a late round gem in this upcoming draft class. We had an excellent talk below about his go-to pass rush move, his pursuit of a Doctorate in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology, and what an NFL team would be getting if they draft him.
6’1” 221 pounds
Academic All-Southland Conference First Team (2017, 2018, 2019)
All-Southland Conference First Team (2019)
19.5 tackles for a loss and 15 sacks
Fit with the Colts:
The Colts could use more depth on the edge in this upcoming draft class. GM Chris Ballard clearly has a type when it comes to this position as he likes his players to be quick and explosive off of the edge. While Walker may be a bit undersized, he does possess both of these tools. He would not be the answer at the position by any means but adding a productive player who has some good traits and is insanely smart and good off of the field should intrigue the Colts in the later rounds/UDFA period.
Late 7th/Priority UDFA
ZH: How did you end up at Houston Baptist?
AW: Coming out of high school, I wasn’t recruited by many schools so I just kept training and stuff like that. A recruiter told me to go to a camp out in Houston and it was only a one day camp and about two weeks afterwards, Houston Baptist ended up giving me an offer. Just seeing how the school was when visiting and the coaches being so welcoming, it just made sense to go there and help build up a legacy.
ZH: I saw that you are majoring in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and are looking to get your Doctorate in that. Were your academics important to you in college?
AW: This past semester was actually my last semester but I’ve been training for the combine and all this other stuff but after my career or even during my career I’ll finish off that last semester for my degree. But yeah you know it was really important. It was actually another reason why I came to Houston Baptist. They have a very well known pre-medical program and that was like the main factor in deciding to come here outside of coaching and other things. So yes, academics were very important to me.
ZH: What area would you say you’ve shown the most growth since your Freshman season?
AW: Just learning how to do the little things right. Just things such as staying low at the point of contact and using my arms when engaging with a blocker and things like that from little techniques. Not only doing it during games but doing it in practice to the point where when the game comes around it is almost second nature. Off the field though I’d say just knowing that there is always something much bigger than myself. There is always that end goal that everyone is working towards and you are always fighting towards something bigger than yourself. It is not always about you, there is always something bigger.
ZH: You were one of the top sack artists in the country last season. What was the key to your success as a Senior?
AW: During the offseason my coach, Coach Jordan my assistant coach, really focused in on how to watch film and how to use my technique to the best of my abilities. I have really long arms so we worked on constantly in that offseason is using that long arm and transitioning those pass rush moves to really chain together and also learning to have that quarterback pocket awareness. Not getting too up the field and having that timing on pass rushes to get to the quarterback before he steps up. Just working on my technique and learning how to lean on my strengths a lot better.
ZH: Going off what you said there about the long arm, what would you say is your go-to pass rush move?
AW: Definitely the long arm. A lot of people think I’m just a speed guy, which I am (a speed guy), but a lot of times I’ll use that to fake like I’m going upfield and then come back with the long arm. It’s not necessarily like a bull rush but more like a stiff arm to get that leverage real quick so they can’t grab me. That long arm is key though because you can go right to a dip-rip or sling them a little bit or a rip through/pull through or even have that leverage to come back to the inside when the quarterback steps up.
ZH: What would you say is the most important trait for a pass rusher to have?
AW: Definitely ball get off. You can be real strong or flexible or have great hands but everything comes down to ball get off. If you have a good get off, any pass rush move becomes a lot easier. That is like the staple of any pass rusher. Having that get off, being quick on your first step, and anticipating that snap count and getting home.
ZH: Who in the NFL do you model your game after/study when watching film?
AW: Khalil Mack because he uses those long arms and also Von Miller too. Even though he is more of a speed rusher, he uses that long arm too. He’ll come off the edge fast then use a two arm long arm to drive players back off of it so definitely those two guys I like to watch.
ZH: You just played in the CGS Bowl where you told me they played you a bit at off ball linebacker. How was that transition for you and would you be comfortable if an NFL team preferred you there?
AW: Oh yeah, just from playing linebacker at CGS, I like it a lot. It was really fun moving to inside backer and playing zone coverage and stuff like that. I would be pretty happy about whatever move I have to make you know, whatever a team wants. It would just be about getting up to speed when learning how to diagnose plays and react off of run vs pass plays and such but after that point, it is anything goes from there.
ZH: Final question for you. What would my team be getting if they spend a draft pick on Andre Walker?
AW: They’d be getting a player who is very smart, knows how to breakdown film, and carry that on game day. A cerebral player who knows how to diagnose plays and make plays but also won’t compromise the integrity of the defense by getting out of position to try and make a play. No off the field issues at all and just a team player. Wherever they need me to play— linebacker, D-end, 3-4 outside linebacker, or 4-3 outside linebacker— I’m willing to do anything for the team.