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NFL Draft rumors: Georgia linebacker Quay Walker will not get ‘past New England’ in Round 1

Related: Patriots draft targets: 15 linebackers that might be on New England’s radar

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 31 CFP Semifinal - Capital One Orange Bowl - Georgia v Michigan Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Quay Walker is projected as a second-round draft selection on most big boards, including Pats Pulpit’s own, but it appears that the Georgia linebacker is generating some on the eve of the draft. Rumor has it that he might find his way into the first round after all, and maybe even become the first linebacker selected.

If that happens, the New England Patriots are regarded as a team to look out for. In fact, there appears to be a chance that Walker “doesn’t get past New England” if ESPN’s Matt Miller is to be believed.

Whether or not the late hype turns out to be substantial, one thing cannot be denied: Walker is one of the most intriguing linebacker prospects in this year’s draft.

A cornerstone of Georgia’s championship-winning defense last season, Walker offers a rare combination of size, athleticism and physicality. Standing at 6-foot-4, 241 pounds, he has the speed and strength to make an immediate impact as a second-level run defender, and has proven himself as a sure tackler and durable player; Walker only became a starter during his 2021 senior season but he has appeared in 52 games as a Bulldog.

While he did not see a lot of coverage snaps as part of Georgia’s deep linebacker corps and needs to keep improving his processing skills to reach his full potential, Walker has legitimate starter-level upside. Accordingly, he very much appears to be on New England’s draft radar.

The Patriots, after all, are in the process of rebuilding their linebacker spot. Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins remain unsigned in free agency, while the players under contract come with their fair share of questions.

Ja’Whaun Bentley is a rather one-dimensional player, while Mack Wilson was just added via trade. Raekwon McMillan and Cameron McGrone are both coming off torn ACLs, while Anfernee Jennings and Terez Hall were both no-shows last season. Jahlani Tavai saw limited action in his first year in New England, and Harvey Langi is primarily a special teamer.

The team is in the market for linebacker help, and Walker is one of the top prospects available.