Through the first three-day block of AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp, there's one rookie who has tended to find himself in the exact right place at the exact right time: Linebacker Mykal Walker.
Atlanta's fourth-round pick in this year's draft, Walker snagged interceptions off of tipped passes on Tuesday and Thursday, and he came very close to getting a third pick while making a diving attempt Wednesday. For the second rookie report of training camp, we'll focus on the Falcons' newest athletic linebacker.
Player: Mykal Walker
College: Fresno State
Notable college stats: Recorded 22.5 tackles for a loss in two seasons at Fresno State.
Second opinion: "Versatility, I think he's going to be similar to [our other linebackers] in that way. In college, he did all of those things. He played at the line of scrimmage, he rushed, he played off the ball, he played even some safety-type roles. Mykal not only has that versatility but, for a rookie, he has a really good brain. His ability to retain information and articulate his job, whether it be virtually or now that we get some interaction with him, but I've been impressed with him. So far, I've been extremely happy with him." – Jeff Ulbrich, Falcons assistant head coach/linebackers coach
Walker ended the Falcons' Thursday practice with an interception off a Blidi Wreh-Wilson tipped pass, closing out the team's scrimmage and denying the offense any points during a two-minute drill.
The Falcons appear to be set with Deion Jones and Foye Oluokun as their starting linebackers – or at least they have been thus far in training camp – but Walker has rotated in at times two work alongside either of those two players. Mostly, however, he's been alongside Deone Bucannon with the Falcons' second-team defense.
When on the field, Walker's versatility is apparent. He's comfortable lining up close to the line of scrimmage and rushing the passer, something he did often in college, but he is also getting plenty of opportunities to drop into zone coverage and challenge any receiver who enters his territory. As his interceptions so far indicate, he's got a good feel for where a play is headed.
Given the number of talented safeties the Falcons have on the roster, it might not be too frequently that they have three linebackers on the field at once. Instead, Atlanta might opt to use Walker in the same type of rotational role that they used with Oluokun the past two seasons.
Early last season, the Falcons would often bring Oluokun onto the field for a defensive series midway through the game. It wouldn't be surprising if they decided to do that at proper times with Walker. Of course, he has to earn those snaps and prove to the team that he can be relied upon to do his job.
Through the first three training camp practices, however, he's well on his way towards doing just that.
There were highlights from the offense and defense during the first team scrimmage on Day 14 of AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp.