One of the perks of playing with a top-tier defense in the NFL is learning from the best in the league. For Broncos rookie defensive end DeMarcus Walker, that is exactly the case.
The second-round pick from Florida State has the luxury of playing alongside Von Miller, Derek Wolfe and other established pass-rushers this training camp. Already, injuries to Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray have the Broncos looking for help on the outside. The Broncos tested Walker at the outside linebacker position on Sunday, and the rookie is welcoming all the reps, and coaching, he can get.
“The way that the vets have been teaching me – Von [Miller] and [Derek] Wolfe came up to me today – they’re actually telling me and teaching me the within my skills of what I can do,” Walker said. “How can I translate? I can use that inside and outside. I really have just been keeping my mouth shut and just taking in coaching.”
Lucky for Walker, he can take that coaching from one of the best in the business in Miller. While there is undoubtedly a learning curve involved in adding another position to Walker’s repertoire, having Miller as a role model is invaluable.
“It’s a blessing to be honest with you,” Walker said of Miller’s influence. “He’s the best for a reason. Whenever he talks, I always ask him question on that stuff. He always gives me input. And the better thing today, (Former Denver Bronco DeMarcus Ware) D-Ware text me today, too.”
Playing multiple positions is not something new for Walker. Throughout high school and college, Walker played more than just his designated defensive end position. He saw run at the outside linebacker position and was able to play on both the left and right side of the defensive line.
The versatility is something that Broncos defensive coordinator Joe Woods has already noticed in training camp.
“The thing we like about DeMarcus is that he has a lot of versatility,” Woods said. “Right now, everything’s fluid but we’re trying to move him around a little bit just in terms of playing the d-line and playing a little bit of outside linebacker. He’s a unique player just in terms of what he’s able to do.”
Though Woods did mention that nothing is set in stone with Walker at outside linebacker, he also commented on his natural comfort at the position.
As for Walker, the pressure of learning two positions at the NFL level is far from overwhelming. With the help of Miller and other veteran defenders, Walker is learning how to have fun while improving craft.
“You just have to mature,” Walker said. “Just think about what’s in the moment. I’m picking up those type of skills from Von. I’m actually just having fun with it. That’s the best thing about it. Having fun and taking it one day at a time.”