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Anthony Walker leads two Northwestern Wildcats in NFL Draft

Anthony Walker left Northwestern a year early to enter the NFL Draft. He and Ifeadi Odenigbo were selected in the NFL Draft.

Anthony Walker, Northwestern Wildcats

The Northwestern Wildcats are not exactly waiting on pins and needles on NFL Draft day. But they had every reason to be excited for the third day of this year’s draft with some stellar players still available on the board.

Northwestern fans are certainly a bit disappointed with the overall showing from the team’s representatives.

Linebacker Anthony Walker, once thought of as a top prospect in the NFL Draft, slipped to the fifth round. Defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo was selected in the seventh round. Big Ten Wide Receiver of the Year Austin Carr signed a free agent deal. More players are likely to trickle in.

The Wildcats are still waiting to get the fruits of their improved recruiting classes. The NFL draft prospects are not exactly flowing in.

But Walker was something different. Walker came into the season with significant NFL Draft hype. Some mock drafts had him going in the first round.

Injuries slowed him down this year. When he was healthy, he was still a terror as a linebacker and an all-Big Ten candidate.

Walker became the first Northwestern player since 1996 to declare early for the NFL Draft. And it certainly seemed the right decision for him. There was not much for the Northwestern captain to do at this level.

Walker was selected in the fifth round with the 161st pick by the Indianapolis Colts.

Walker will have plenty of competition at middle linebacker, according to Mike Wells of ESPN.com. But Walker has overcome plenty of odds before. And he has shown himself more than capable of dominating games defensively at the Big Ten level.

Senior defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo also got picked after living up to his expectations his senior year. Odenigbo went in the seventh round to the Minnesota Vikings.

Odenigbo arrived in Evanston as the team’s highest-rated recruit. There was legitimate excitement to see four stars next to a recruit’s name coming to Northwestern.

He was still relatively new to football, his athleticism was not going to carry the day for him alone anymore. And he learned that very quickly as he struggled with injuries. Odenigbo for most of his career was nothing more than a third-down pass rusher.

His senior year changed that. Odenigbo led the conference in sacks for much of the season and became more than just a third-down specialty player. That potential from his high school days remains.

And the Vikings clearly saw that.

Ben Goessling of ESPN.com writes Odenigbo fits the model of the projects the Vikings like to work on. Like at Northwestern, Odenigbo will have to grow his game and improve his skills to make it at the next level. But Odenigbo is more than capable of doing so. He has the raw talent.

Two other Northwestern players were signed fairly shortly after the draft.

That included Big Ten wide receiver of the year Austin Carr. Carr signed with the New England Patriots, seemingly a perfect fit for the undersized wide receiver. New England has taken players like Carr and turned them into productive receivers at the NFL level for years.

Northwestern linebacker Joe Jones also signed with the Dallas Cowboys. Jones broke out on the scene his senior year.

These four players will continue their football careers after the NFL Draft’s conclusion. The Wildcats are certainly happy to see these players continue their careers.

Philip Rossman-Reich is a Northwestern alumnus and former contributor Lake The Posts. He also writes for Orlando Magic Daily and The Step Back.

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