Throughout the 2012 campaign, the Raiders were victimized by opposing running backs. Game after game, runners gashed and slashed the Oakland front seven for big yards, including a 251-yard performance from then-rookie Doug Martin. So this offseason, the Raiders added Walker along with Pat Sims and sixth-round rookie Stacy McGee.
A former seventh-round pick who spent his first four NFL seasons with the Falcons, Walker improved significantly over the past two years. During that time, he started nine of 32 appearances while racking up 34 total tackles, five sacks and two forced fumbles. Although he showed the most promise as a run-stuffer, his five sacks in limited action can’t be ignored.
Now with the Raiders, Walker is penciled in as a Day 1 starter seeing as Oakland decided to part ways with 2012 starters Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour this offseason. With Sims likely to fill in as the other starting defensive tackle, the two offseason acquisitions should have every opportunity to prove their worth with the Raiders.
The first big test for Walker will be Raiders training camp, during which time the fifth-year veteran will have the chance to create his own spotlight after years of playing in the shadows. With extended snaps and a prominent role on the Oakland defense, Walker should be able to intensify the glimpses of playmaking ability that he displayed throughout the 2012 campaign.
Assuming he plays anything like he did with the Falcons, Walker should be an impact player for the Raiders. He’s a disruptive force against the run and an underrated pass-rusher.
Walker is just another example of the subtle moves that GM Reggie McKenzie is making to dig the Raiders out of the bottom of the NFL barrel.