Tell me the best five tight ends in the game. People automatically say Rob Gronkowski, because of Gronk spike, right? Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, Hunter Henry, and… crickets? Yeah, I hear them too. Yet Delanie Walker of the Tennessee Titans is often overlooked because he lacks the flash and splash of the others. Last season, if Walker had not been a Titan, the Titans might not have made their long overdue playoff appearance. Walker is one of the most under-appreciated players in the game and deserves to bask in the light of his impact.
Walker began his career drafted by the 49ers with the 175th pick in 2006. Walker was drafted behind Vernon Davis and was intended to serve as a complementary piece in their rebuild. His numbers never jumped off the page in San Francisco. Walker continued to hone his craft and waited for his chance. His role slowly began to increase as his coaches and coaches around the league began to take notice. After a heartbreaking, controversial loss in Super Bowl XLVII to the Baltimore Ravens, Walker finally got his big break. The Titans took notice of his 344 yards and three touchdowns on only 21 receptions and signed him to a four-year contract. Finally, Walker had the chance to be the man on his own team.
The legend of Delanie Walker was just beginning. In his first season as a Titan, Walker recorded 60 receptions for 571 yards and six touchdowns. His statement game came in 2014 against the Cowboys. Walker laid down the thunder with 10 receptions for 142 yards and a touchdown. Go figure right? It’s the Cowboys. Walker finished the 2014 season with 63 receptions for 890 yards and four touchdowns. Walker had become a focal point of the offense. His impact was being felt because he was slowly chiseling his name in the Titans record books. However, Walker wasn’t getting the recognition he deserved.
Walker still isn’t getting the attention he deserves. It took his explosive 2015 season to finally get some respect. Walker put the league on notice as he shattered Titan tight end receiving records he had previously set last season with 1088 yards receiving. After that season, he finally cracked the NFL Top 100 players list as the 82nd ranked player.
Here And Now
After productive seasons and developing a fruitful connection with a young quarterback, Marcus Mariota, Walker has his sights set much higher. Walker is ready to return to the Super Bowl and hoist the Lombardi Trophy that narrowly slipped through his fingers years ago.
As Walker approaches age 34, he is showing no sign of slowing down. In fact, reports out of organized team activities this offseason have Mariota and Walker continuing to dominate. Look for Walker to keep in top form.
I’m projecting Walker to have 80 receptions for 875 yards and 5 touchdowns.