DeMarcus Walker has emerged this year as a capable pass rusher and has also shown the ability to stop the run playing from the three technique. He has evolved from a borderline “bust” to the Broncos’ sack leader in 2019.

But it was not that easy; Walker endured two trying seasons where his character and determination were put to the test. Now with a coaching staff who believes in him and the confidence to get it done at the NFL level, Walker has the green light to go make plays for his team.

A Florida kid through and through, Walker was born in Jacksonville, Florida on September 30, 1994 and attended Sandalwood High School in Jacksonville. A force be reckoned with on the high school football field, Walker was tabbed by Rivals as a four-star recruit and held offers from 28 different schools. After originally committing to Alabama, Walker retracted his decision and changed his commitment to Florida State in January of 2013. The Seminoles and defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt recruited Walker to play strong side defensive end.

Immediately, Walker was thrown into the fire and saw action as a true freshman in 2013, playing in 12 games, starting three, while recording 18 tackles and one sack. From there, Walker just got better and better each season in college, starting 11 games his sophomore year, totaling 38 tackles and one sack.

However, the big leap came in his upperclassmen seasons. The numbers began to pile up in his junior year as Walker registered 58 tackles and 10.5 sacks. Electing to stay in Tallahassee for his senior year in 2016, Walker had 4.5 sacks in the first game of the season and continued to dominate the rest of the year. Following the 2016 season, he was named a consensus All-American, ACC Defensive Player of the Year, as well as a finalist for the Hendricks Award, given to the top defensive end and a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award, given to the best player in college football, regardless of position. Walker left Florida State ranked third all-time in sacks with 28.5, while also posting the third-highest single-season sack total during his senior year with 16.

Following a promising four-year run at Florida State, Walker was ready for his shot in the NFL and was projected by most draft experts and analysts as a second or third round pick. Denver took Walker in the second round, 51st overall, and later signed him to a four-year, $5.07 million contract.

Denver assumed they were getting a difference maker in the pass rush, but it didn’t quite work out that way, at least in the beginning. The coaching staff requested that Walker lose weight so he could change positions because he was deemed too small to play the 4i/5 technique in the 3-4 defense the Broncos’ used. After the plan to move Walker to outside linebacker did not go as anticipated, the coaching staff requested he put the weight back on and moved him back to defensive line. Regardless of what weight Walker was playing at, he had trouble getting on the field, playing a combined 13 games with zero starts through his first two NFL seasons.

But that all changed in 2019. With the help of a new coaching staff, Walker had a solid training camp and preseason, solidifying his spot on the 53-man roster. Walker’s confidence in himself was on display when he told head coach Vic Fangio after the first preseason game that he thought he played really well. Fangio was asked about Walker’s performance in the game and said, “I think he exaggerated a bit. It wasn’t bad, but he had me thinking he was getting nominated for Canton. It was good, but not great.”

Through seven regular season games, Walker leads the Broncos’ defense with four sacks and also has five tackles for a loss. He started his first NFL game in Week 4 vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars. Last week, playing against the Kansas City Chiefs, Walker was on the field for 51% of the defensive snaps, the highest percentage of his NFL career. With Denver sitting at 2-5, Walker has unquestionably been a bright spot on a struggling team.

Walker and the Broncos travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts this Sunday at 11:00 a.m. MT. Keep an eye on Walker and see if he makes his presence felt in the Colts backfield.