Five Play Prospect: Gators OL Issiah Walker Scouting Report
As the GatorMaven "Five Play Prospect" series continues - breaking down each of Florida's early signings with a five play scouting report - it's time to take a deep dive on the four offensive linemen headed to Gainesville.
Yesterday, we covered Joshua Braun, and today we will break down Issiah Walker's film.
The 6-4, 299 lb. Miami-area prospect (Norland High School) has enrolled at Florida for the spring semester, like Braun, and will participate in spring camp. Walker is an athletic, versatile lineman who utilizes strong hands in pass protection.
While Braun profiles as a capable run blocker early in his career, Walker is a high-upside prospect who could use a year of development and technique refinement, eventually emerging at either tackle position.
Playing left tackle in the clip above, Walker keeps his feet active in his pass set to mirror the oncoming edge defender. While he doesn't win the pad level battle outright, he's about even with the edge rusher at the point of initial contact and keeps his hands in the defensive end's chest.
As Walker continues to gain depth in his set, he anchors to slow the rusher down. In doing so, Walker eventually capitalizes and swipes through the DE's arms. In return, after being stood up through Walker's anchor, the edge rusher stumbles and Walker finishes the rep.
Polished hand usage is crucial for playing offensive tackle in the SEC, and Walker knows that. He practices his swipes and chops with resistance bands.
Walker displays the raw strength he packs into his game, which will be developed further under offensive line coach John Hevesy and utilized in run blocking.
In this rep, Walker lunges towards the defensive end a bit while in pass protection, which he will want to eliminate at the next level against twitcher and stronger defensive ends.
However, the strength he shows in swiping through both of the rusher's arms without setting a base to generate power from is appealing. With continued pass-set development, Walker's hands should do him well in protecting the quarterback.
If there is one for of pass set that Walker has a solid foundation for, it's the 45-degree.
Walker's athleticism allows him to mirror the oncoming edge rusher's footwork well, preventing easy counter moves by staying balanced and in front of his opponent. He utilizes his length to extend and keep his arms locked in his block.
The rusher attempts to shake him, but Walker doesn't bit and the rep stalls as the ball comes out of the quarterback's hand.
On this play, Walker simply outmuscles his opponent through his 45-degree drop. With a deep kick-step off the snap, Walker widens out the rusher while keeping his hands inside the rusher's chest, eliminating any leverage for the defensive end to get loose.
Walker finishes with a nice pancake block.
Walker is going to have to learn how to better utilize his play strength at the line of scrimmage on power run blocks, but shows off good vision and athleticism in quickly reaching the second level.
While containing the 3-technique from moving outside, Walker keeps his eyes north on the linebackers to key in his second-level block. He bursts vertically, lowers his shoulders and immediately drives the linebacker out of the play.
While Braun is a candidate to play early with his run blocking polish, which would serve as an immediate upgrade for Florida's offensive line, Walker is a bit more of a project player who could benefit from redshirt to develop his all-around game.
With proper development, Walker can ascend into a special pass protector at either tackle position. Adding a good 10-15 lbs. in Florida's strength program would only enhance his ability to win in the trenches.
Walker's hands and raw strength can be dangerous against opposing pass rushers, and he carries plenty of athleticism to win on an island. There's a lot to like about what Walker can become at Florida.