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More NFL Draft hype is here for Deone Walker

Adam Luckettby:Adam Luckett05/20/24


Wiltfong Whiparound 5-20-24

Kentucky junior Deone Walker could be a household name in college football this upcoming season. The Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech product was a four-star recruit before becoming a team captain and first-team All-SEC selection as a true sophomore in 2023 recording 55 tackles and 12.5 tackles for loss. The NFL Draft buzz is quickly beginning to pick up steam for the Kentucky star.

Expectations in Lexington are high for Deone Walker in year three, but the potential draft ceiling could be higher. PFF lists Walker as the No. 5 overall prospect in the 2025 cycle.

The sophomore’s 51 pressures this past season led all interior defensive linemen in college football while his eight sacks were tied for the most among Power Five ones. Since 2022, he’s been the second-most valuable returning Power Five defensive tackle according to PFF’s wins above-average metric (Graham is first). While Walker has the sheer strength to overpower offensive linemen, he often wins with his outstanding agility and finesse at that size. Like Graham, expect Walker to be a high pick in the 2025 draft for just how much of a unicorn he is.


Kentucky has not had a defensive player drafted in the first round since Jamin Davis came off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft. That four-year drought will likely end in less than 11 months. The Wildcats have not had a defensive tackle taken in the first round since Dewayne Robertson in the 2023 NFL Draft. Robertson went off the board at No. 4 overall to the New York Jets. Walker has a chance to end both streaks.

All signs point to the star defensive tackle becoming a three-and-done at Kentucky.

PFF Big Board: Top 25

  1. James Pearce Jr. (EDGE, Tennessee)
  2. Mason Graham (iDL, Michigan)
  3. Will Campbell (T, LSU)
  4. Will Johnson (CB, Michigan)
  5. Deone Walker (iDL, Kentucky)
  6. Kelvin Banks Jr. (T, Texas)
  7. Luther Burden III (WR, Missouri)
  8. Benjamin Morrison (CB, Notre Dame)
  9. Tetairoa McMillan (WR, Arizona)
  10. Travis Hunter (WR/CB, Colorado)
  11. Carson Beck (QB, Georgia)
  12. Nic Scourton (EDGE, Texas A&M)
  13. Shedeur Sanders (QB, Colorado)
  14. Malaki Starks (S, Georgia)
  15. Tacario Davis (CB, Arizona)
  16. Colston Loveland (TE, Michigan)
  17. Harold Perkins (LB, LSU)
  18. Abdul Carter (EDGE, Penn State)
  19. Emeka Egbuka (WR, Ohio State)
  20. Jack Sawyer (EDGE, Ohio State)
  21. Ollie Gordon II (RB, Oklahoma State)
  22. Kevin Winston Jr. (S, Penn State)
  23. JT Tuimoloau (EDGE, Ohio State)
  24. Quinshon Judkins (RB, Ohio State)
  25. Jabbar Muhammad (CB, Oregon)

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