2021 NFL Draft Profile: San Jose State WR Tre Walker
The Spartans wide receiver looks to take his big-play capabilities to the NFL.
Even in a stacked pass-catching class, don’t overlook him.
Tre Walker signed with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent.
A lot had to go right for the San Jose State Spartans to claim their first Mountain West football title last fall and perhaps nothing made more of a difference than the dynamic production of the team’s passing game.
In that, wide receiver Tre Walker set himself apart and made his mark among the program’s all-time greats, finishing among the top six in career receptions and receiving yards. He capped his collegiate career with two seasons, 2019 and 2020, in which he was an all-conference selection and, after a brief dalliance with transferring to the SEC, decided now was the time to make the jump to the pros.
What does Walker bring to the table for an NFL team looking to power up its aerial attack?
Pro Day Numbers 🔢
— San José State Football 🏆 (@SanJoseStateFB) March 18, 2021
One thing you can definitely say about Tre Walker is that he knows how to raise his game when the occasion calls for it. Not only did he rack up 137 yards at nearly 20 yards per reception in the Spartans’ title game victory over Boise State, he’d torched the Broncos for nine catches and 193 yards back in 2019, too. Additionally, he also went over 100 yards in 2018 and 2019 against rival Fresno State and was one of the team’s few bright spots in their Arizona Bowl loss to Ball State last December.
What prompts that level of production? Nick Farabaugh of the Pro Football Network praised Walker for his ability to attack a defensive back’s leverage, while The Athletic’s Brandon Howard notes that Walker’s technique at the line of scrimmage is a plus. The “little things”, if you will, played a big part in Walker’s ability to haul in more 15-yards catches over the past two seasons than any FBS receiver except Alabama’s Devonta Smith. Keeping that kind of company is a good thing.
The consensus among draft analysts is that Walker underwhelmed at San Jose State’s pro day last month, which leaves open the question of just how much his measurables will translate to the professional ranks. Especially concerning were a below-average 4.59 40-yard dash time and a 28-inch vertical jump that, at least according to Mockdraftable, would have ranked among the worst-such figures for past NFL Combine attendees.
While Howard is a believer in Walker’s ability to, as he put it, “climb the ladder” and “[play] as if he’s at least 6-foot-2”, at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds in reality, Walker may end up being a better fit if he can spend more time in the slot, in a crafty offense which can make use of his ability to navigate zone defenses.
However, it is worth noting that some draft analysts, like Matt Waldman, have pointed out that being undersized and perhaps a half-step slower than the draft’s elite prospects isn’t a dealbreaker in today’s NFL if you know how to maximize what you do best.
What means more to you: Two years of tape or one day of subpar testing? The draft analyst community seems split as to what it all means for Walker — Pro Football Focus went so far as to demonstrate how his pro day compared to undrafted prospects from years past — but there are proven commodities like Jarvis Landry who underperformed in a number of the same categories and have nonetheless thrived at the pro level. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence, then, that Walker named Landry among the pass catchers he most likes to watch.
In my opinion, there’s enough evidence to suggest that Walker will be a contributor in the NFL, if not necessarily a star. While some teams may be wary of reaching to get him in a very deep wide receiver class, I think he’s an easy Day Three selection for a needy team, and I’d be prepared to pick him in the sixth round.