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FSM Presents: Zo Huddle – The West Coast Sleepers Come Draft Day – Tre Walker

Franchise Sports Media

 

The Zo Huddle loves two seasons: Football season and draft season. With the 2021 NFL Draft over a month away, the Zo Huddle will unveil the top sleeper prospects out west in his eyes…

 

And we’re going to stay in Silicon Valley for this one.

Alongside our last spotlight wideout Bailey Gaither, this former San Jose State Spartan helped form one of the most devastating speed duos in the Mountain West. In fact, this Spartan finished the truncated 2020 season with three consecutive seven-catch games and delivered a knack for acrobatic/sideline catches.

But is it enough to convince NFL teams to draft him?

Here is my next West Coast sleeper in the 2021 NFL Draft:

 

TRE WALKER  

 

Hometown: Compton (Calif.)

High School: Narbonne High

Star ranking: Three-star by 247Sports

Height/Weight: 5-foot-11, 190-pounds

No. of seasons playing collegiately: Four

Personal accolades: All-Mountain West Conference recipient (First Team in 2019, Second Team in 2020), named to the Maxwell Award and Biletnikoff Award watch list in 2020; the former honoring College Football’s most outstanding player and the latter honoring the nation’s best wide receiver, is third on the school’s all-time career receptions and receiving yardage list.

 

Before he was a Spartan…

 

Walker was one of the most decorated players in CIF Los Angeles City Section lore.

Two significant honors he accomplished: Earning the Marine League Co-Offensive Player of the Year award and winning the 2016 L.A. City Section Division I Offensive Player of the Year.

In his three-year varsity career at Narbonne, Walker totaled 114 receptions for 1,841 yards and 20 touchdowns, according to MaxPreps. Although his senior season saw his numbers skyrocket to 77 catches, 1,290 yards, and 16 touchdowns.

 

Field Work 

 

Route geometry: Gaither was the deep threat option. Walker, similarly, was used in the same fashion. However, Walker exhibited an ability to run his routes at full tilt and to near perfection if it was a short lob. He wasn’t one who went half-speed on his routes. One thing noticeable in scrutinizing his route-running – Walker is sharp and fluid at his breaks, giving him the space needed to gain separation between him and an opposing cornerback.

 

 

Releases versus cornerbacks: Again, Walker’s breaking ability is a strength…and an indicator that his footwork and hip flexibility are strong. Both traits are needed to execute effective releases. And, of course, there is the speed component, which Walker has. For his releases, Walker often relied on a single jab step before working inside or out. In his lone score against Hawaii, he planted with his left foot in front of the outside shade of the Hawaii CB’s right shoulder before accelerating inside, then out-racing three Rainbow Warrior defenders for the 50-yard touchdown…on a play that started out as a short 5-yard pass.

 

 

But, against Nevada, while buried at their own 8-yard line and with quarterback Nick Starkel under duress, Walker hit the double-tap to gain spacing, then sprinted inside – effective enough to create separation and pick up 25 yards on the third-and-10 play.

 

 

Tracking the football: Walker shows incredible concentration with his eyes, even when a CB is tightly contested against him. Boise State game of 2019 and New Mexico contest of this past season shows Walker at his best when it comes to finding the ball and completing the high-concentration grab. Whether if he had to leap or outstretch the arms, Walker looks like a wideout who will come down with the ball by any means necessary. Another example of his focus and tracking side: His first reception against Nevada, with a CB blanketing him. Walker resorts to jumping for the ball then taking the CB with him on the forward progress.

 

 

Run after catch ability: I believe Gaither was stronger when it came to YAC (yards after catch). I noticed Walker made his biggest plays by beating corners deep or when gaining separation after his release point. He also was skilled at being the bail-out receiver when it appeared the play would break down, as seen here in the Valley Title game in 2019.

 

 

 

In the first touchdown of the 2020 Mountain West Conference championship game, Walker and the Spartans take advantage of an aggressive Boise State gamble by blitzing the CB on Walker’s side. Walker and Starkel immediately take advantage, as Walker allows his speed to finish the rest and get the Broncos’ gamble to come up empty.

 

 

Working against press coverage: Walker is physical even given his relatively diminutive stature. An example is 2018 against Fresno State.

 

 

He faced more situations when CB’s played five to seven yards off him. But he’s skilled at using his hands to push off of jams. Yet, in the MWC, he didn’t always go up against taller, more physical CB’s. Most of the cover cornerbacks he dealt with were nearly equal in stature, so his ability to take on corners who have the height advantage comes into play.

 

Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: SJSU Athletics

After contact ability: Walker has a scrapper side to him after contact. He will not stop his feet after contact is made. He’s additionally skilled at keeping his feet going when defenders dive at his toes and ankles in the attempt to trip him up.

Blocking ability: Walker was another Spartan wideout with not much film as a downfield blocker due to the Spartans’ pass-happy nature.

Performances against bowl teams: Against the two MWC teams that finished right behind SJSU in Boise State and Nevada, Walker combined for 14 catches for 217 yards and a touchdown in the wins over the Broncos and Wolf Pack. His most astronomical outing in 2019 came against No. 21 ranked Boise State – with Walker tallying nine catches, 193 yards, an average of 21.4 yards a catch, and TD. He additionally put up a combined 12 catches, 202 yards, and one TD in two straight years against a Hawaii team that made back-to-back bowl appearances.

Attitude: This is the area where Walker may concern NFL teams. He reportedly clashed with his coaches at SJSU during its 2020 MWC title run. He also served a two-game suspension in 2019 for violation of team rules.

Closest comparison – Willie Snead, Baltimore Ravens: Snead is similar in stature at 5-foot-11 and with the habit of extending plays after the catch is made. Snead is another who has shown high concentration when surrounded by defenders and can fight for yardage when the ball is in his hands.

From the WR perspective of James Finley (Walker’s former WR coach at the high school level): “The best thing I would say about Tre is, to me, he’s an old school receiver. What I mean by that is he’s a route runner. You actually don’t see that too often these days with all the RPO (Run Pass Option) stuff. He’s good with his hands, but it’s his route running ability that sets him apart from other receivers.

He’s getting better at his release game since being in college. But route running is his strength. I’ve had Tre since the ninth grade. He’s always worked with me, and he’s trusted me. He’s always been hungry. He’s always wanted to make it. We saw a photo of him with 8-9 other kids, and he made a muscle. But he said, ‘Look, coach, I’m still standing. A lot of these guys were ranked higher than me but not playing football no more…and I’m still standing.’

I like Seattle for him. I also would like to see him at Green Bay because they like to play 4-5 receivers. I also like the Rams. They don’t really have a fourth receiver. That would be a good spot for him to develop there. Seattle really sticks out, too, because of their receiving situation. He can fit a Doug Baldwin type of role.

 

Current Draft projection: Sixth to Seventh round

 

Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: SJSU Athletics

Zo’s most potential suitors: Los Angeles Rams, Seattle, Chicago, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Baltimore

Rams: Robert Woods needs help, Cooper Kupp needs to reclaim his health, and the Rams will need an established inside threat for new QB Matthew Stafford. Walker, though, hasn’t had many reps at the slot as the Spartans often plugged him as the ‘X’ receiver (farthest from the tight end). But this is an ideal spot for him to start his career with an established offensive mind in head coach Sean McVay.

Seattle: If QB Russell Wilson returns or not, the Seahawks are expected to get hit hard at the WR spot in free agency and need to provide D.K. Metcalf with some help. Former ‘Hawk Doug Baldwin is another accurate comparison to Walker given his past as a skillful route runner at 5-foot-11.

Chicago: The Bears have four wideouts heading to free agency, including Allen Robinson. Matt Nagy’s offenses have been met with mixed results (though most Bear fans have been vocal about how stagnant the unit has been). Chicago’s 5-foot-11 wideouts Darnell Mooney and Anthony Miller combined for 110 receptions for 1,116 yards and six touchdowns, so Walker could learn from those two if given the chance here.

Cleveland: The Browns have five free agents at the WR spot alone. Odell Beckham is expected to be at full health, and Jarvis Landry has provided valuable leadership and big plays. This could be a great situation for Walker given Cleveland’s recent success with WR’s under 6-feet.

Indianapolis: It could be the end of the T.Y. Hilton era at Indy, as the 32-year-old is a free agent. Also, the Colts’ second-leading receiver Zach Pascal is listed as a free agent. Either way, Indy will need a spark in WR production.

Baltimore: Along with Snead and Dez Bryant, the Ravens have six perimeter players listed as UFA’s. Baltimore needs to upgrade and add more weapons for Lamar Jackson. Another thing that could play into Walker’s favor here: New Ravens passing game specialist Keith “Dub” Williams once coached receivers at San Jose State. The Spartan connection could work in Charm City.

Overall: Walker has the routes and Hub City scrapper side that potentially can carry over to a multiple-season stay in the league. Two keys for him: Get along with his coaches and fine-tune his slot wideout ability, which could be where his future lies. Another major component: His 40-yard dash time. If it’s low enough, he could be appealing as a late rounder. Teams that have thrived with 5-foot-11 wideouts are an ideal landing spot for Walker.

 

Next time: The Zo Huddle heads to Duck Territory and breaks down Deommodore Lenoir of the University of Oregon alongside DB specialist Fred Zepeda.

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Lorenzo J. Reyna – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Zo on Twitter: @LJ_Reyna

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