GREEN BAY – Georgia linebacker Quay Walker started to get some good vibes about the possibility of coming to Green Bay when chatting with former Bulldogs teammate Eric Stokes on the sidelines at Georgia's spring football game two weeks ago.
They talked on the phone again about an hour before the Packers went on the clock Thursday night and selected Walker with the No. 22 overall pick.
Then those vibes went to a whole 'nother level when, six picks later, with Walker on a conference call with the Green Bay media, the Packers used their second first-round pick on another Georgia teammate, defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt.
"Oh man, that's crazy," said Walker, who along with Wyatt and Stokes makes it three Georgia defenders taken by the Packers in the first round the past two years.
"It's a reunion, man. I can't even really say nothin'. I'm gonna start crying all over again."
Walker was plenty excited to get the call from Green Bay and become the first inside linebacker taken in the 2022 NFL Draft. He'll join first-team All-Pro De'Vondre Campbell at that position with the Packers, creating a tandem potentially unlike any Green Bay's defense has possessed for quite some time.
At 6-4, 241, Walker has size and athletic traits similar to Campbell's, who worked wonders in defensive coordinator Joe Barry's scheme last year for Green Bay.
"It's been a while since we've been able to stay in certain packages with two inside 'backers and handle everything in run defense and the passing game," Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst said. "This really gives our defense a ton of flexibility."
It's easy to envision Campbell and Walker playing a lot of snaps side by side in both base and nickel packages with their combination of run stopping and coverage abilities. Not having to go as often to a dime package with six defensive backs can keep an opponent guessing on third down.
"That makes it really tough on an offense," Gutekunst said. "His range and speed and explosiveness as a tackler was something we couldn't pass up."
Walker played in 52 games over four years for Georgia but didn't become a full-time starter until this past season, when the Bulldogs won the national championship. A change in his diet cut his body fat to around 8-9 percent, and he said he met with his coaches more to become a better student of the game.
"I became smarter," he said. "I learned what everybody does around me. Way more smarts on the mental side.
"There's a whole lot I need to get better at, but nothing I can't get better at."
Gutekunst said the Packers started scouting Walker early in the process and saw a player whose career has shown a steady progression.
He tied for third on the team with 67 tackles last year, but led the way with eight tackles in the national title game vs. Alabama. He had 1½ sacks among 5½ tackles for loss, and he was credited with 25 QB pressures in 15 games, including six in the final game against the Crimson Tide.
"For us it was always a race to the ball," Walker said of Georgia's loaded defense, which saw two linemen – Travon Walker at No. 1 overall and Jordan Davis at No. 13 – taken in Thursday night's first round before the Packers made their two picks. Georgia safety Lewis Cine was then chosen by the Vikings with the final selection of the first round.
"With the guys we have, you kind of want to get there in a hurry."
Now two of them are joining a defense that finished in the top 10 last season in total yards and turned in an impressive playoff performance.
"They have to come in and prove it," Gutekunst said. "They're rookies in the NFL and haven't done anything yet.
"Adding two players of this kind of talent to your front seven to an already really, really good group, we're fired up about that."
Take a look at Packers LB Quay Walker during his college career.