Let's forget about 2020, the Atlanta Falcons' 4-12 finish this past season and rewind the clock a bit.
And since we're approaching NFL mock draft season, let's go back to last March and April.
Remember all of the names that were dominating the pre-draft conversations, Twitter feeds and message boards? Highly touted prospects like Chase Young, Jeff Okudah, Isaiah Simmons, Derrick Brown, Javon Kinlaw and C.J. Henderson.
Well, one name you didn't hear much about at all was Mykal Walker's, and that's likely because the former Fresno State standout was projected to be a Day 3 pick, at best. NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein projected Walker going in the sixth round.
The Atlanta Falcons apparently liked what they saw in Walker and selected him higher – in the fourth round with the 119th overall pick. And based on Walker's rookie-year performance, the Falcons may have found a diamond in the rough.
Walker, in fact, was named to the Pro Football Focus 2020 All-Rookie Team, a group that includes the likes of the aforementioned Young, Brown and Simmons.
"If going purely off counting stats such as tackles, the all-rookie linebackers would be players like Kenneth Murray and Patrick Queen, who started for their respective defenses and piled up numbers," writes Ben Linsey of PFF. "The PFF grades tell a different story, with Murray earning a PFF grade of 54.4 on the season and Queen coming in as one of the lowest-graded linebackers in the league at 29.8.
"Walker is one of the players who shined in a more limited role. Across 387 defensive snaps this season, he earned a 74.0 overall grade that included a 90.7 grade in coverage. Walker allowed just 74 passing yards into his coverage on 152 coverage snaps all season. He may not have the same stats as several of the other rookie linebackers across the league, but his play warrants some recognition here."
PFF 2020 All-Rookie Team
|Quarterback||Justin Herbert||Los Angeles Chargers|
|Running back||Jonathan Taylor||Indianapolis Colts|
|Wide receiver||Justin Jefferson||Minnesota Vikings|
|Wide receiver||Tee Higgins||Cincinnati Bengals|
|Wide receiver||Brandon Aiyuk||San Francisco 49ers|
|Tight end||Adam Trautman||New Orleans Saints|
|Tackle||Tristan Wirfs||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Guard||Damien Lewis||Seattle Seahawks|
|Center||Tyler Biadasz||Dallas Cowboys|
|Guard||Kevin Dotson||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Tackle||Michael Onwenu||New England Patriots|
|Defensive line||Derrick Brown||Carolina Panthers|
|Defensive line||Raekwon Davis||Miami Dolphins|
|Edge||Chase Young||Washington Football Team|
|Edge||Alex Highsmith||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Linebacker||Mykal Walker||Atlanta Falcons|
|Linebacker||Isaiah Simmons||Arizona Cardinals|
|Cornerback||L'Jarius Sneed||Kansas City Chiefs|
|Cornerback||Cameron Dantzler||Minnesota Vikings|
|Safety||Antoine Winfield Jr.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Safety||Kamren Curl||Washington Football Team|
|Flex-D: Safety||Jeremy Chinn||Carolina Panthers|
Linebacker Mykal Walker, selected in the fourth round with the 119th overall pick, was named to the Pro Football Focus 2020 All-Rookie Team.