Devontez walker,the new top threat for lamar jackson

Will Devontez Walker be the top deep threat for Lamar Jackson?

OWINGS MILLS, Maryland Wide receiver Devontez Walker of North Carolina picked up the phone during the fourth round of the 2024 NFL Draft and heard the voice of Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta after going without a call the first two days of the draft.

“How would you feel about catching passes from Lamar Jackson?” DeCosta enquired.

Walker started sobbing as soon as he spoke with DeCosta and was crying when he talked to Ravens coach John Harbaugh. When Walker informed his mother and grandmother for the first time at the age of four that he wanted to play in the NFL, his feelings had been rising ever since.
Walker’s journey to the league, however, has not been easy. He had to deal with an agonizing Senior Bowl performance, a ruptured ACL, and a tense transfer argument with the NCAA. Walker is hopeful he has found a home as the newest playmaker for the league’s most valuable player after switching between three institutions.

“Just hearing that an NFL team values your skill set and you as a person, it just makes you feel good, [like] you’ve done all the right things to get to this point,” Walker stated. “It was just a great feeling.”

Walker may be Jackson’s top deep downfield target; he was selected as the 19th wide receiver in this year’s draft. Due to an eligibility problem, he made his ACC debut on October 14 versus North Carolina, when he finished second in the league with 656 receiving yards and led with seven touchdown catches.
Walker, who was chosen as the 19th wide receiver in this year’s draft, may be Jackson’s best deep downfield target. He made his ACC debut on October 14 against North Carolina, when he led with seven touchdown catches and ended second in the conference with 656 receiving yards, due to an eligibility issue.

A.J. Green, a receiver with the Cincinnati Bengals who plagued Baltimore from 2011 to 2020, served as Walker’s model for the game. Walker was likened by DeCosta to Torrey Smith, whose spectacular downfield exploits propelled the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory in 2012. Walker and Smith established their explosiveness in college by outpacing cornerbacks on long routes. However, concerns about their ability to consistently catch the ball followed them to the NFL.

DeCosta stated, “[Smith] made big plays when it counted.” “He’s a glue guy, and I just think Tez has a lot of the same qualities.”

Smith had 21 receptions on throws of at least 30 yards over his four seasons with Baltimore. Even yet, during the previous 12 seasons, that is still more than double what any other Ravens player has accomplished.

For Jackson and the Ravens, the deep passing game has been a vulnerability. He completed 26.9% of the passes on throws of 30 yards or more last season, which was good for seventh in the league.Walker, who considered playing alongside Jackson an honor, has the potential to change all of this.

“I’ve been watching Lamar since he came out of high school,” Walker stated. “He’s somebody that I wished I was on his team, and now that wish is coming true.”

Walker had only accepted the most uncertain period of his professional career eight months prior.

To be honest, I felt my season was over,” Walker remarked.

Walker intended to transfer to North Carolina in 2023, his third university since beginning his scholastic career. However, the NCAA first rejected his application for immediate eligibility, citing his status as a two-time transfer. Walker has previously appeared on the rosters of Kent State in 2021–2022 and NC Central in 2020. For a few reasons, he thought he was eligible to play for North Carolina: Due to a COVID-19-canceled season, he was never able to play for NC Central, and he desired to go to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in order to be nearer to his sick grandmother.

Coach Mack Brown of North Carolina criticized the choice, calling the NCAA, “shame on you.” The NCAA board of directors reported that threats of violence were made against committee members.

Eventually, in early October, the NCAA changed its mind and approved Walker’s waiver. NCAA athletes can now, regardless of the number of transfers they make, start playing right away.

“The whole year, I had no idea that I was going to play at all,” Walker stated. I wasn’t sure if I should declare for the draft. I wasn’t sure at the time, but it was essentially how I felt. [I’d] probably be [undrafted] or returning [to North Carolina]. I was rather surprised to receive that call because I had no idea that I would play at all.”
Walker obtained a job at Bojangles to help pay for his rehab expenses, and while working there, he met several NC Central coaches who had watched his game footage. He was scheduled to perform there, but the pandemic caused the season to be canceled.
Walker finally made his way to Kent State in 2021, where in 2022 he caught 58 passes for 921 yards and 11 touchdowns. Against eventual national champion Georgia, he had seven receptions for 106 yards and a score, which stoked his curiosity about how he might do at a Power 5 institution like North Carolina.
It wasn’t until several waivers and rejected appeals that Brown could finally invite Walker into his office and break good news to him. “You’re eligible, big dog!” Brown informed him.

Walker stated, “It’s no bad blood between me and the NCAA,” following his selection as the 113th player overall in this year’s draft. “I’m just grateful that they came to that conclusion and that I was able to complete the tasks necessary to reach this position.

Walker’s initial impression of Ravens officials wasn’t the best. In January, during Senior Bowl workouts, he mishandled five passes. During the game, he was targeted eight times but failed to register a catch.

Seeing him make difficult receptions at North Carolina, whether it was hauling in an underthrown pass along the sideline or stretching his arms to make the reception while a safety was bearing down on him, made the Ravens feel better. Walker’s performance at the NFL combine in February, where he was one of three wide receivers to record a sub-4.4 40-yard sprint and a 40-inch vertical jump, further enhanced his status. Xavier Worthy and Xavier Legette were the other two, who were both first round selections.

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