Football: Walker, Odenigbo hear names called on final day of NFL Draft


Daily file photo by Lauren Duquette

Anthony Walker lunges for a tackle. The linebacker was taken in the fifth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday.

Max Schuman, Digital Managing Editor


It took until the final few hours of the three-day NFL Draft, but a pair of former Northwestern players came off the board and learned where they would begin professional careers.

Linebacker Anthony Walker and defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo were chosen Saturday by two midwestern NFL teams. Walker was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the fifth round, and Odenigbo had his name called in the seventh round by the Minnesota Vikings.

Walker notched over 100 tackles for the second-straight year last season and received All-Big Ten recognition from the conference’s coaches and media for his efforts. However, his 2016 was a step back from his All-American sophomore season, hurting his draft stock relative to a year ago and causing his slip to the 161st overall pick.

The linebacker figures to be a factor in a competition for playing time at the position in Indianapolis. Walker told the Chicago Tribune on Saturday that a member of the Colts’ front office informed him that his interview with the team at the NFL Combine — which involved discussing the intricacies of defensive plays — was one of the best the team has ever had.

“My dad has groomed me since I was two years old to understand the game,” Walker told the Tribune. “Playing a lot of different positions — quarterback, receiver, DB, linebacker — helped get that football IQ down. And we ran one of the more complicated defenses in college football with different zone coverages and man pressures.”

Odenigbo, meanwhile, saved his best season in Evanston for his final one. He led the Wildcats with 10 sacks en route to a first-team all-conference nod from the conference’s coaches, and his pass-rushing production as a senior led Minnesota to take him with the 220th pick in the draft.

The defensive end got the call from the Vikings as he was travelling from Evanston to Chicago by car to take his mind off the draft, Odenigbo told reporters following his selection.

“I didn’t really sleep that much (Friday) night … I needed space and needed to get out,” Odenigbo said. “On my way to Chicago, I got a phone call from the Vikings … they said, ‘We want to draft you,’ and I said ‘Oh. Oh my goodness.’”

In addition to the two drafted Wildcats, receiver Austin Carr and linebacker Joseph Jones signed as undrafted free agents with the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys, respectively, following the conclusion of the draft Saturday.

Carr was a Biletnikoff Award finalist in his prolific final season at NU, setting a single-season school record with 1,247 yards and tying another school record with 12 touchdowns as a senior. He was seen as a potential late-round pick but instead caught on with New England after the draft, leaving him to fight for a spot on the roster of the defending Super Bowl champion.

Jones was a spot starter in 2016 who didn’t put up big defensive numbers and was better known for his contributions on special teams. He will likely need to stand out in a similar role to stick in Dallas.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @maxschuman28