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Former Titans TE Delanie Walker Mentoring Prospects at the NFL Combine, With Thoughts of Becoming a Coach in the Future


INDIANAPOLIS – Delanie Walker is a perfect example of an NFL success story, a sixth-round pick out of the University of Central Missouri who blossomed into one of the league's biggest stars.

A tight end for 14 NFL seasons, including seven with the Titans, Walker did it with hard work, and by paying his dues.

So that makes him a perfect mentor for NFL Draft hopefuls, and here in Indianapolis, Walker is doing just that as he prepares players at the NFL Combine for the next step of their playing career.

Along the way, Walker hopes to learn something himself, since he has aspirations of potentially returning to the league one day – as a coach.

For the second year in a row, Walker is working as a mentor for the NFL's Legends Community. He's spending time with the tight ends in Indianapolis, in meetings, during on-field world, in the hotel lobby, doing anything he can to make an impact.

"Once I first did it, I was like, I would love to do this every year, if possible," Walker said. "And they were like, Good, because they love you, and they would love to have you back again.

"I love it, and I'm everywhere – I go to their measurements, I go to their informal (interviews), their formal (interviews), their medical with them. I'm on the field with them, encouraging them, and if I see something I will tell them things like, 'Keep your head down more' or 'Pump your arms getting out of the break'. Those guys will come to me and say: How did I look? And, I'll tell them: You look great, but finish, and don't stop. I want to give them pointers that coaches are looking for here, and in (the NFL)."

A sixth-round draft pick of the 49ers in the 2006 NFL Draft, Walker recorded 504 receptions for 5,888 yards and 36 touchdowns in 183 games in San Francisco and Tennessee. Walker's career really blossomed with the Titans from 2013 to 2019, when he became a three-time Pro Bowler and a four-time captain while also being recognized twice as the team's Community Man of the Year.

Walker was invited to the combine in 2006, before the mentorship program was established. He got his pointers from coaches on the field.

Walker gives more than just tips to the players; he motivates them as well.

"I tell most of these guys: At the end of the day, you are going to come in, and you are going to be even to everybody in there," Walker said. "The opportunity is yours, so take it. Don't tell the coach you don't play a certain position, or you don't do this or that. If they ask you to do something, you say: 'I can do it coach, and if I can't do it, I'll learn how to do it'. And, special teams is key. That is my message, because if you are a late round draft pick, you are probably going to be playing special teams. And if you are a high round draft pick and you're not starting, you are probably going to be playing special teams. So, get that in your head now."  

Walker said he's been impressed by the tight ends in this year's class, a group that includes former Georgia tight end Brock Bowers, who's been projected as a top 10 talent by many draft evaluators.

"Just watching his film from being at Georgia, and what he did, he's an exciting player," Walker said of Bowers. "He's one of those guys that's going to make those plays that younger quarterbacks look for. And, having that – and I hate to say security blanket – but that's sometimes what the tight end is. You have that quick pass over the middle, reliable out routes and quick flat routes, guys that can catch the ball and then also get yards after the catch, and he is one of those guys. I look forward to seeing what he does and what type a player he turns out being."

Walker, for the record, can't see the Titans picking a tight end with the seventh overall pick.

"If I can get some coaching under my belt, maybe Ran (Carthon) and other GMs and coaches that I interact with would probably take some advice from me, but I'll say stuff about players, and I'll give them pointers," Walker said. "I'll tell them what I think about certain players. But at the end of the day, do I think the Titans draft a tight end that early? I don't think so. I just think with Chig (Okonkwo) and Josh (Whyle) at the moment, I think they kind of see those as being the tight ends for the Titans. But if a good tight end falls late, would they take him? Oh sure, I've seen them do it before, so I think it's a possibility.

"I think Chig and Josh are great, they are hard workers. They are young, so they have time to grow, and I think both of them will be able to feed off of each other, and make each other better, because that is what happens when you have two tight ends that were drafted and played at a high level in college. They just make each other better. And I think once we get some more weapons on the outside, that will open some things up for our tight ends, too."

Speaking of growing, Walker said he wants to grow as a teacher, and a coaching prospect as well.

The NFL Combine has provided a great opportunity.

Walker will get another big opportunity with the Los Angeles Chargers, as he'll work through the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship/Mentorship program under his former coach with the 49ers, new Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh, leading up to the 2024 season.

The program's objective is to use NFL clubs' training camps, offseason workout programs and minicamps to give coaches or aspiring coaches opportunities to observe, participate, gain experience and ultimately gain a full-time NFL coaching position.

Walker said that's his goal, and he'd love to do that one day in Tennessee, with the Titans.

"I am excited about this opportunity," Walker said. "Just being around these guys, and being around the NFL, that is my calling, and I miss it. And I just want to see if this is what I want to do. I want to get my foot in the door, and thankfully the NFL gives us programs where we can get in the door that way. So, I am just going to go out there (to Los Angeles) and see if this is what I want to do, and then go from there.

"Next year I am going to try and get with the Titans if this is something I want to do. I would (love) to be in Tennessee, with the Titans, but whatever happens, happens."

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