Devontez Walker - WR - North Carolina

Devontez Walker had a long and interesting road not only to the Power 5 level in college but to where he stands as an NFL prospect. He drives a lot of conversation as the draft analysts seem pretty split on where he can provide at the next level. He’s uber-athletic with great size, but a lot of people point to the lack of refinement at the position.

Measurables

Height: 6′ 1″

Weight: 193 lbs

Age: 23

40-yard dash: 4.36s

3-cone drill: DNP

20-yard shuttle: DNP

Vertical Jump: 40.5″

Broad Jump: 11’2″

Bench Press: DNP

*age is at the start of player’s rookie year

College Stats

Receiving & Rushing Table
ReceivingRushingScrimmage
YearSchoolConfClassPosGRecYdsAvgTDAttYdsAvgTDPlaysYdsAvgTD
*2021Kent StateMACFRWR8512424.81000512424.81
2022Kent StateMACSO125892115.9113299.716195015.612
*2023North CarolinaACCSOWR84169917.073237.704472216.47
CareerOverall104174416.8196528.71110179616.320
Kent State63104516.6123299.7166107416.313
North Carolina4169917.073237.704472216.47
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 2/2/2024.

Notable Headlines

Devontez (“Tez”) Walker was a low three-star recruit out of high school with only an 80 rating by both 247Sports and the 247Sports Composite. He went on to enroll at North Carolina Central, home of the Eagles, an FCS college, in 2020. But this was in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and the FCS didn’t play their season that year, resulting in Walker sitting out an entire year. The following season, Walker made the jump to the G5 of the FBS level with Kent State. It was slow going as a redshirt freshman as he only accumulated 5 receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown across 8 games.

The following season was when Walker broke out at Kent State, having his first 100-yard game against reigning national champions, the Georgia Bulldogs. He finished the season strong with 4 total 100-yard games and nearing that 1,000-yard receiving mark with 921 receiving yards. His performance that season led Kent State in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns, and led to First-Team All-MAC honors.

Tez Walker went on to parlay that successful season with Kent State into a Power 5 opportunity with North Carolina as the Tar Heels looked to retool after losing Josh Downs and Antoine Green. The year started rough for Walker due to the NCAA denying his transfer eligibility in a dispute with UNC that played out in the public. Eventually, the NCAA allowed Walker to play and in just 8 games he nearly led the team in receiving yards and receptions but did lead the Tar Heels in receiving touchdowns. He was immediately Drake Maye’s favorite target with three games of over 125 receiving yards while averaging a staggering 17 yards per catch. Despite the short season, Walker still earned Third-team All-ACC honors and declared for the NFL Draft as a redshirt junior. 

Scouting Report

Positives

Despite showing up to the senior bowl smaller than anticipated, Walker still has good size, listed at 6’0” and 197 lbs. His size/speed combination is what stands out as he provides a unique pairing thanks to his top-end speed. With that top-end speed and his ball-tracking ability, Walker is already a viable deep threat. Additionally, he provides good length and the ability to extend outside of his frame with reliable hands to create a bigger catch window for his quarterbacks to hit.

After the catch, Tez brings a nice ability to create plus yardage in the open field. He can be physical after the catch, not afraid of contact, and willing to keep his legs churning like a running back. That physicality paired with his size and extension creates a very formidable red zone threat. He’s just such a natural athlete with his speed, size, and playmaking ability. Finally, while there aren’t a lot of blocking reps on his tape, he shows a willingness to block for his teammates while utilizing his length and physicality to be effective in this area.

Negatives

While Walker is a natural athlete and has pretty good ball skills already, a lot of his negatives come from the nuances of the position. His body control could improve to help improve his contested catch ability which one would expect to be better with his play style. He is still a very raw player, likely due to the unique start to his collegiate career. Missing his first season at the FCS level and then working his way up to the Power 5 level for just one year of coaching at that level that was cut short due to eligibility constraints means there’s likely a lot of untapped potential there. And it’s evident as there are a lot of areas he could stand to improve as a route runner.

Against press, he didn’t quite show the physicality or quickness that he’s capable of and has shown in the open field. He tended to get jammed in the few reps he did get pressed at the line and has a very long developing release package, throwing off his timing. Additionally, he can get caught up with physical corners within his routes despite his usual size advantage, again throwing off his timing. 

Tez lacks the route-running nuance that you have to have at the NFL level. He doesn’t consistently deceive opposing defensive backs with a bag of moves and fakes that he can fall back on. He runs tall within his breaks, making them look sluggish and rounded when he needs to drop his hips consistently to create additional separation. His short and intermediate routes can be lacking as he thrives on screens and deep passes. He can win in those areas but he has to grow as a route runner and win at all levels to be more than just a role player in the NFL.

Post Draft Analysis

Expected Draft Capital- Round 4

Landing Spots

Devontez Walker provides a player with an already defined skill set as a deep threat and field stretcher, but with the potential still there to develop into much more. The Panthers is a team that needs to take as many shots as they can at the wide receiver position and Walker is a great candidate in the middle rounds of the draft. He has the potential to be a quarterback’s best friend and paired with Diontae Johnson and potentially another free agent, Walker could have the time needed to develop more. 

Originally, the Cleveland Browns were the second landing spot of choice, but with the addition of Jerry Jeudy, it seems like a lesser need now. Instead, the Dallas Cowboys are in a position to take a shot on Walker and allow him to sit behind some veterans like Brandin Cooks and Jalen Tolbert. He could emerge as an electric weapon in situational formations as a rookie and then allow him to become more well-rounded for next season as Cooks’ contract expires next offseason.

Pre Draft Analysis

Baltimore Ravens – Round 4, Pick 13

Landing Spot

The Ravens took a step forward last year in their passing attack from where they were in 2022, but the team was still in the bottom half of the league in passing yards. There’s just not a big pie to go around in the receiving game in this offense and the rookie Zay Flowers has established himself already as he led the team in receiving in 2023. Additionally, they lean on the tight end position as Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely combined for 955 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. The team expects a big jump from Rashod Bateman this year, but it feels like everyone has been waiting on that since his rookie season. 

This pick appears to be a pick to add depth to this receiving core in case there is an injury or Bateman doesn’t live up to expectations again this year. The pick comes with added upside as Devontez Walker is a stellar athlete who has had an interesting path to get to the NFL. Maybe there’s still some untapped potential there that can be paired with his athleticism that will make for a diamond in the rough type of pick.

Fantasy Impact

There’s potential in Devontez Walker’s profile with a high ceiling if he’s able to reach that with the right coaching. There are elements in his game he needs to clean up and refine to add to his already athletic profile to become at least a reliable NFL weapon. But even without that, he proved to be a downfield threat in college, and that pairs well with Lamar Jackson’s skill set. There’s an opportunity to get on the field right away as Nelson Agholor was that go-to deep threat last season but that’s about all he provides. And who knows if Rashod Bateman lives up to expectations in his fourth NFL season.

In Redraft leagues, it’s likely fine to avoid Devontez Walker in drafts. It’ll likely take him some time to develop into a true NFL weapon and even then, it’s a longshot for him to be fantasy-relevant any time soon. The same can be said for Dynasty leagues. There is an upside there based on his athletic ability, but it’s truly a dart throw at the top of the fourth round according to his ADP. There’s likely to be better dart throws around where he goes in drafts.

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