TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – DeMarcus Walker loves to prove his doubters wrong. Safe to say he’s made a believer out of John Elway.
Elway, the Pro Football Hall-of-Famer and Denver Broncos general manager, on Friday used his team’s second-round pick – 51st overall – to select Walker, the Florida State All-American who racked up 16 sacks as a senior in 2016. The pick came about 45 minutes after the Minnesota Vikings drafted FSU running back Dalvin Cook.
A former blue-chip prospect from Jacksonville, Walker leaves Florida State as one of the most accomplished pass-rushers in school history.
His 26.5 sacks over the last two seasons are the most in the country during that span, and his 28.5 career sacks are third on FSU’s all-time list.
Highlights include a 4.5-sack performance in the 2016 season opener against Missisippi and a dominant outburst (2.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 blocked kick) against Florida in 2015.
“I watched DeMarcus work extremely hard every single day in practice for four years to get to this moment,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He’s a guy that loves football and who was a tremendous leader for us. He will go down as one the top defensive players in school history.
‘He has a great opportunity to be successful in the NFL because of his ability to play multiple positions on the defensive line and his passion for the game.”
Walker will bolster an elite Denver defense that’s anchored by star linebacker Von Miller.
And he’ll do it while carrying the same chip on his shoulder that drove him to great heights in Tallahassee.
Walker watched as eight pass-rushers flew off the board during Thursday’s first round.
Once the first 32 picks were in the books, Walker took to his Twitter account to let the world know that he won’t soon forget what he sees as a slight.
A few savvy fans on Twitter pointed out that, while he was drafted 50 picks later, Walker actually has some stats that compare favorably to Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, the draft’s No. 1 overall pick.
Walker nearly doubled Garrett’s tackle and sack totals last season, and he was more productive in games against Southeastern Conference competition, despite playing just two games against SEC teams.
“DeMarcus Walker is huge value at 51st overall for the Broncos,” SEC Network Cole Cubelic tweeted after the selection. “Nasty DL with elite pass-rush skills inside and out. Super high motor.”
Walker said in a Friday-night conference call that he’s eager to learn from Denver’s veteran defenders, and that he’s willing to play wherever the Broncos see fit.
And, in case there are any doubters still out there, he had something to say to them too.
Actually, he didn’t.
“I’ll just show them,” Walker said. “I have nothing to say. I’ll just show them.”
Walker is the fifth Seminole drafted by the Broncos and first since All-America defensive tackle (and currenty quality control assistant) Jerry Johnson in 2000. He’ll join former FSU lineman Menelik Watson, who signed with Denver as a free agent in March.
Seminoles drafted by the Denver Broncos
2016: DeMarcus Walker, DE (2nd round, 51st overall)
2000: Jerry Johnson, DT (4th round, 101st overall)
1991: Reggie Johnson, TE (2nd round, 30th overall)
1985: Eric Riley, DB (8th round, 222nd overall)
1981: Ken Lanier, OL (5th round, 125th overall)