Updated: Jun 12, 2022
By Adam Aniba
Washington has had a quiet offseason free agent wise, but post-draft they've been busy signing over a dozen UDFA's. The previous Undrafted Edition featured Notre Dame rookie middle linebacker Drew White, but the Commanders double dipped, signing another rookie MIKE linebacker in Idaho's Tre Walker.
The '21 1st Team All-Big Sky linebacker was a leader on and off the field for the Vandals. Walker is limited to playing middle linebacker, based on his overall position flexibility, but was an absolute thumper against the run. As with all undrafted free agents, Walker has room to grow, but it's clear that he fits Rivera's blueprint.
6'0" 240 lbs | LB | Idaho
Career Stats (38 games) 338 total tak (226 solo), 21.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 1 FR, 1 FF & 4 PD
2021 (12 games) 105 total tak (46 solo), 3.0 TFL, 1FF & 3 PD
Walker was selected to the 2022 East-West Shrine Bowl, after earning the HERO Sports and Stats All-American honors. Washington officials saw enough at the Idaho pro day to sign Walker (18 bench press reps, 29.5 inch vertical leap, 4.7 sec forty time) .
Walker began his high school football Dos Palos HS in West Sierra, CA playing two-way football as a RB and LB. Walker was the squads leading rusher with 1,072 yards & 15 touchdowns and added 65 tackles on defense, earning West Sierra Offensive MVP.
Walker transferred to Central East HS for his senior year to play linebacker full time. He led his team with 140 tackles, 7 sacks, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble. His efforts led to a 1st-Team All-Tri-River Athletic Conference selection on the way to the Division 1 Championship and NorCal Championship, which was the best season in school history.
Becoming a Vandal
As a 2-Star recruit, Walker received little national attention, ranked as the #154 ILB in the nation. The University of Idaho showed interest in Walker and made the Central East linebacker a scholarship offer. As a freshman, Walker was active in 11 games with two starts at MLB for the Vandals and a valuable special teams contributor.
His first start came against Eastern Washington and he made an immediate impact with 8 tackles. Walker finished the season with 41 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss, 1 QB hurry and a pass break up.
After finishing the '21 season with a team-leading 105 tackles, it became a reality the Vandals middle linebacker could make his mark in the NFL.
It's an uphill battle for undrafted prospects to get valuable snaps and impress coaches during training camp. Rookie linebackers that can make an impact on special teams and stand out in run support, have a legit shot to at least make a practice squad. Walker has the intangibles to be a solid backup MIKE linebacker, but could be more if he refines certain facets of his game.
Walker played some of his ball, when facing some of Idaho's toughest matchups. His 13 tackles vs Wyoming in '19 and his most impressive game of '21 vs Indiana (16 tackles) showcased the type of overachiever the Vandals linebacker is. Walker's 4 career pass breakups and zero interceptions certainly concerned teams looking for a protypical middle linebacker in the draft though.
Excels in run support, shows no hesitation when shooting his gaps
Violent hitter, but plays under control as a textbook tackler
More than serviceable in zone coverage and has room for growth
DIsplays the ability to diagnose run/pass effectively
Unquestioned leader who leads by example, tasked with lining up the defensive backfield pre-snap as the MIKE linebacker
Displayed impressive situational awareness and had some of his better game against ranked/more talented opponents
Limited change of direction ability in coverage
Lack of overall length is exposed when attempting to shed blocks
Looks stiff in his back pedal and needs refinement
Can be a liability in man coverage
Can struggle facing zone/outside run schemes
Although displays an effective punch when facing would be blockers, needs to work on countermoves
Rivera has been an open book with the situation at MLB with Cole Holcomb the projected starter in '21. A spot to backup Holcomb should be up for grabs though. 8 year veteran David Mayo made a positive impression on coaches last season, but he shouldn't be considered a lock to backup Holcomb.
As previously mentioned, the UDFA from Notre Dame will get a shot, but Walker has the potential to open eyes during training camp. It might be cliche, but standing out on special teams will be the path that most of these undrafted rookies take, in order to make the 53-man roster.
Washington's linebacking core is a work in progress and as fans have seen, injuries can lead to rookies being thrust into action earlier than anticipated. Walker will impress coaches with his combination of strength and situational awareness.
As a self proclaimed film junky, Walker will get an opportunity to showcase his ability to digest things quickly at MLB. His ability as a reliable and ferocious tackler, should lead to some jarring hits during camp.
On the outside looking in, the practice squad seems like the likely destination for Walker. If Walker displays improved awareness and ability in coverage, all bets are off and the former Vandals linebacker could be the surprise linebacker this offseason.
*Games Watched- 9/4/21 vs Simon Fraser, 9/11 vs Indiana, 9/18 vs Oregon St, 10/2 vs UC Davis, 10/9 vs Portland St, 10/16 vs E.Wash, 10/23 vs Montana, 10/20 vs N. Arizona, 11/6 va S.Utah, 11/13 vs Montana St & 11/20 vs Idaho St