Detroit Lions: Safety Tracy Walker is ready for a starting job
By Kellen Voss
This young Detroit Lions defense is looking to improve. And with sophomore safety Tracy Walker in a starting role, that improvement should come quickly.
One of the saddest, yet inevitable moves that the Detroit Lions made this offseason was cutting ties of former Pro Bowl safety Glover Quin, ending an era for the dominant safety. Lions fans watched the aging Quin decline slowly but surely in Detroit. Though the talented defender will be missed, he leaves a starting spot at free safety up for grabs.
While former Texas Longhorn Quandre Diggs looks to be the most promising candidate to fulfill that starting role, the fifth-year player recently said that his teammate Tracy Walker can be the total package.
Noting Walker’s willingness to learn and fondness of his teammates, Diggs makes a compelling case for the second-year safety. And early into this offseason training, it appears that the Lions’ third-round selection in 2018 has become a bit of a workout warrior.
In Walker, the Lions have a lengthy, big-hitting playmaker who can be a versatile cog in head coach Matt Patricia’s complex defense. Walker excelled as his role gradually increased this season, as he was ranked as a top 16 safety in the league according to Pro Football Focus in the 27 percent of defensive plays he participated in in 2018.
In his second professional offseason, Walker wasn’t training for the combine this offseason or crisscrossing the country for job interviews. He got more of a chance to work on his game, emphasizing the technique part of it. Walker feels like he’s a more complete player heading into 2019. Here’s what he recently told DetroitLions.com.
"“Honestly, I attacked this offseason as if I was expected to walk in and be a leader of the secondary. That’s what I intend to hang my hat on … I took the approach that I have to be better in every aspect – mentally, physically and emotionally. I’ve got to make sure I’m well rounded, so when I come back, I can be ready to grind it out.”"
Albeit the mark was small, Walker was able to make a mark in his rookie season, as he recorded 21 tackles and recorded one interception against the Carolina Panthers. Lions super fans will remember that Walker also had an interception called back late in Detroit’s Week 2 game in San Francisco on a penalty away from the play that could have changed the course of the loss to the 49ers.
Based on his college statistics, Walker can make an impact as a hard-hitting safety, as he was able to put up 269 total tackles and 11.0 tackles for loss in his career. With eight interceptions and nineteen passes defended to his name in his time at Louisiana, it’s clear Walker is well-rounded and much more than a hard-hitting safety, being a threat to pick off any pass.
The competition for that starting safety job is stiff, with Tracy Walker, Quandre Diggs, Andrew Adams, Tavon Wilson and rookie Will Harris fighting for that starting spot. But based on the hard work he’s put in this offseason and his excellence in his small sample size last season, Walker is clearly the front-runner for a starting role.