The Atlanta Falcons have gotten a lot of coverage from the national media this offseason. Mostly because of their new additions like Jessie Bates, Calais Campbell, and Bijan Robinson among others.
However, linebacker Mykal Walker is being singled out by Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports as a breakout player among those scheduled to be free agents after this season.
Walker has done his job in relative anonymity in Atlanta, and Trapasso thinks that changes after this season.
Walker is the best linebacker in football you’ve likely never heard of unless you’re a faithful Falcons fan. A former fourth-round pick from Fresno State, Walker’s production has swelled in each of his first three seasons in Atlanta, culminating with a 107-tackle, six pass-breakup, four tackle-for-loss, two-interception campaign without much defensive line help — outside of Grady Jarrett — in front of him in 2022.Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports
Now, the Falcons are formidable in the trenches, particularly with no-nonsense masher Calais Campbell next to Jarrett. Newcomer David Onyemata brings it on every snap too at 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds. Walker will be “kept clean” much more frequently than in the past. He’s a sneaky-good coverage linebacker at a rather sleek 6-3 and 230-ish pounds.
Walker will piece together his finest season to date in the NFL and earn a monster payday in free agency after the season. Remember the name.
Walker is just one of five players mentioned by Trapasso including wide receiver Laviska Shenault of the Carolina Panthers, defensive lineman Teair Tart of the Tennessee Titans, defensive end Bryce Huff of the New York Jets, and former Falcons wide receiver Bryan Edwards who is back in New Orleans with Derek Carr.
The Falcons spent big on linebacker Kaden Elliss this offseason, and second-year man Troy Andersen is expected to be a starter. But Elliss could be used primarily as a pass rusher in long-yardage situations, and Walker has been better in coverage than Andersen in their time together on the Falcons.
The former 4th-round pick is in the final year of his rookie deal and is scheduled to make $2.9 million this year according to Spotrac.
The Falcons would be thrilled to see Walker play his way into a big raise in 2024. It means Trapasso’s prediction of Walker having a breakout season came true.
Remember the name.