DeMarcus Walker Mini-Series Part II: The Other Tricks Up His Sleeve
Updated: Apr 1, 2020
The swim is DeMarcus Walker's chief pass rush move, but it's not the only trick he has up his sleeve. He also uses the rip and the swipe to attack opposing linemen. The moves work in concert, allowing him to threaten both inside and outside.
As we saw in part one, the swim works best when a rusher can threaten one gap and then pull an arm-over to hop to another. The rip and the swipe make that initial attack threatening, forcing the lineman to defend his first step and setting up a swim. And conversely, the threat of the swim keeps blockers from overplaying Walker's first attack, making the rip and the swipe more effective.
Let's take a look at each of these additional moves.
Walker is a bit of a tweener. He's not as fast as most defensive ends, and isn't able to threaten the edge with speed. But it's critical that he be able to at least make tackles worry about him turning the corner—otherwise they could just play the inside gap and take away his swim move. The rip move allows him to threaten the edge despite a lack of top-end speed. Here's what it looks like (lined up at LDE).
Notice how in the clip above Walker generates a fractional advantage on the RT by dipping his inside shoulder. From that position, he locks his arm under the lineman's armpit and seals him to the inside. The move doesn't rely on speed, but on technique and leverage.
Take a look at the same move from the opposite angle and notice how Walker's right arm ends up tight against the RT's shoulder blade. This locks the tackle to the inside and forecloses any chance he might have had of recovering position.
Walker may lack speed, but he has quickness, strength, and an excellent understanding of leverage. As you can see in these clips, the rip allows him to use those traits to win on the edge: burst upfield (no problem if you can't turn the corner with speed!), rip the arm through, lock the tackle, and use strength to press the leverage advantage.
Walker's third move is all about hand fighting. It stems from the idea that if a lineman can get his hands on you, he can lock you up—so don't let him get his hands on you. It's the physical analog of screaming "DON'T TOUCH ME!" Here's Walker using the swipe to clear a lineman's hands and generate a lane to the QB (lined up over RG).
Walker's hands are violent, strong, and intentional. This isn't a wild swipe, but a targeted one, delivered with force. He follows it up by exploding past the guard so he doesn't have a chance to recover.
The swipe and the rip also combine beautifully. Here, Walker's left arm swipes to generate leverage and his right follows with a rip to shed the RT.
Walker's Game—Quickness, Leverage, and Strong Hands
We've now covered the three moves that form the core of Walker's approach to pass rushing: the swim, the rip, and the swipe. These moves were effective in college because they allow Walker to play to his strengths, building on his quickness, exceptional feel for leverage, and violent, forceful hands.
That is Walker's game in a nutshell. Next, in Part III of the DeMarcus Walker Mini-Series, the key question—does his game translate to the NFL?