Packers Rumors: Vance Walker in Green Bay?

In his offseason review of the Green Bay Packers, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell said the Packers should consider signing former Denver Broncos defensive lineman Vance Walker as their next step toward refining their defense.

Barnwell thinks the Packers need more depth up front and pegs Walker as the man to provide it:

With 2016 first-round pick Kenny Clark likely to start at nose tackle, as projected by ESPN's Rob Demovsky, the Packers have a hole at defensive end, where rookie third-round pick Montravius Adams could compete with journeyman Ricky Jean-Francois for snaps. Walker was a useful contributor on excellent defenses for the Chiefs and Broncos in 2014 and 2015 before missing all of 2016 with a torn ACL. His market has yet to materialize, but having just turned 30 and with his knee injury taking place last August, Walker should still have something left in the tank.

The supposed hole at defensive end is presumably going to be filled by Dean Lowry, but Barnwell may not be entirely off base. The Packers certainly do lack proven contributors up front, and Walker could at least be a partial solution to that issue.

Undersized, but quick

Walker has played as a full time starter exactly once in his eight year NFL career, starting 15 games for the Oakland Raiders in 2013. But he’s been a solid contributor in ever stop on his NFL journey so far. Early in the 2015 season, Pro Football Focus rated him as one of the 16 best 3-4 defensive ends in the league, praising the Broncos for their budget free agent acquisition.

Though a smidge shorter and a bit lighter than a typical 3-4 end, Walker has always been praised for his quick first step, even dating back to his scouting report from the NFL combine. His “initial quickness” is quite literally the first thing mentioned in his list of strengths.

Injuries a concern

The biggest drawback to bringing Walker aboard is his recent injury history. He’s less than a year removed from an ACL tear, which ended his 2016 season in August. It can take more than a year or longer for players to fully recover from an ACL injury, and some never make it back fully.

With Walker just turning 30-years old, it’s worth wondering if he’ll ever be the same player he was pre-injury.

Should the Packers sign Vance Walker?

Though he’s shown himself to be a solid player in the past, it’s hard to recommend the Packers signing Vance Walker. He was a solid player prior to his injury, but with up and coming players like Dean Lowry and Montravius Adams already on the roster, there’s little sense in rolling the dice on a player who may never return to full strength.