Position: Wide Receiver
Height/Weight: 6'2", 200 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 4.42 seconds
Tez Walker's path to the NFL stage has been anything but ordinary. He started out at NC Central, but the program's canceled 2020 season forced a detour to Kent State. There, he quickly blossomed into a great wide receiver, hauling in 58 catches for 921 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2022. He even put on a show against Georgia's NFL-laden defense, snagging seven passes for 106 yards.
These impressive displays attracted the attention of Power Five programs, and Walker ultimately landed at North Carolina. The move brought him closer to both his family and his ailing grandmother, while also offering a platform to further boost his 2024 NFL Draft stock.
However, an initial eligibility hurdle threatened to derail his progress. The NCAA, citing his two-time transfer status, denied Walker's waiver – despite the fact he never played for NC Central. Fortunately for Tez, persistent efforts from UNC and the wider college football community led to a reversal of the decision, paving the way for his Tar Heel debut.
Walker has picked up right where he left off, racking up 35 catches for 600 yards and six touchdowns in just six games. His explosive talent and unwavering determination are on full display, making him a must-watch prospect for NFL enthusiasts.
Explosive Longstrider: Walker possesses elite speed, clocking in at a blazing 4.4-second 40-yard dash. He can quickly accelerate off the line, leaving defenders in his dust and creating separation downfield.
Vertical Threat: A nightmare for deep safeties, Walker thrives in vertical routes, utilizing his long stride and elite ball-tracking skills to dominate the deep third.
Length: Standing tall at 6'2" with reported 34-inch arms, Walker presents a mismatch for smaller corners. He excels at high-pointing passes and snatching them away from defenders.
Zone Awareness: Walker possesses a keen understanding of zone coverage, potentially finding soft spots and seams to exploit.
Patience: Walker displays impressive patience when attacking the ball downfield, limiting cornerback reaction time and maximizing his chances of securing the catch. He consistently shows late hands that prevent the defensive back from having a chance to make a play on the ball.
High-Difficulty Adjustments: Even with limited space, Walker can contort his body to make acrobatic catches, showcasing exceptional sideline awareness and body control.
Short Route Inconsistencies: His ability to sell short hitches and maintain crisp route discipline on shorter patterns can be inconsistent.
Explosiveness Bottlenecked: When unable to attack vertically, Walker's explosiveness can be stifled, limiting separation on intermediate routes.
Deceleration Deficiencies: He lacks high-end stopping power and often takes extra steps to decelerate on comebacks, affecting separation.
Route Tree Expansion: While he excels vertically, Walker could benefit from expanding his route tree beyond slants, crossers, and deep routes.
Body Catch Tendency: He has a tendency to let the ball into his torso over the middle, increasing the risk of drops.
Focus Drop Tendencies: He can occasionally focus drop or clap-catch passes when working past his frame.
NFL Comparison: Darius Heyward-Bey
Darius Heyward-Bey never quite lived up to his draft status, but he was a very productive receiver in the NFL. Tez and Darius both have uncanny similar builds, with great speed and length that most receivers don't possess. Just like Heyward-Bey, Tez Walker will be an impact deep-threat the moment he steps on the field.
Draft Projection: 2nd-4th round
Walker's journey to the NFL is far from over. He must continue to refine his skills and demonstrate his ability to consistently produce against top-tier competition. His decision to accept his invite to the Reese's Senior Bowl was very wise for him, as it will allow him to showcase his rare combination of size and speed. He is still raw, but his athleticism will still propel him into the top half of the 2024 NFL draft.