Ten Most Important Bears Players: DeMarcus Walker
Daniel Bartel - USA Today Sports

Ten Most Important Bears Players: DeMarcus Walker

by - Senior Writer -

When the Bears entered the 2024 NFL offseason, one of their biggest areas of need was to address their pass-rushing situation, or lack thereof. After failing to add to their pass rush in free agency and putting faith in a late-round rookie, a lot of the help the Bears are hoping for is going to have to come from within this season.

Sure, there are some guys out there like Yannick Ngakoue that could sign closer to the start of training camp, but it does seem like the Bears are banking on a lot of their younger players to step up this season to provide more in the pass-rushing department. DeMarcus Walker is one of those in-house options to watch this season, and that is why he is considered one of the Bears most important players heading into the season (ranked No. 7 on our list).

The 29-year-old Walker is entering his eighth season in the league and second with the Bears, as his first season showed flashes of what he can bring to the table. Walker finished 2023 with 30 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 16 QB hits (17 games, 12 starts), and emerged as a reliable option once Ngakoue went down with an injury. With Ngakoue officially a free agent, Walker will be looked at to take on an even more significant role this season, and his most prominent role will be providing some much-needed pass rush relief for Montez Sweat.

Walker was the Bears first of many free agent signings last season when he inked a three-year 21 million dollar deal. He was coming off a career-best seven-sack season with the Tennessee Titans, and the Bears were hoping he could duplicate that success in Chicago. Although he didn't come close to reaching the same level of success, Walker saw a career-high of 67% in the defensive snaps, which was a massive increase from his previous career highs of 51% and 38%.

One thing he did well was show versatility, as he proved he could lineup both on the outside as a Blitzer and the inside as a run stuffer. It was his play on the interior section of the line that stood out, as he was very good against the run last season. With Sweat penciled in as the main pass rusher on this team, look for Walker to be the starter on the other side, as his days on the interior may be slowly coming to an end.

For the Bears to have the success they are looking for on defense this season, Walker needs to be on the EDGE and try to get back to the success he had with the Titans as a down rusher. Should he not be able to rush the passer like the Bears are hoping he can, he still has the versatility the Bears love in their players, so he could once again be one of those guys who moves around a lot on defense.

With the Bears drafting Austin Booker in the fifth round and then adding Jacob Martin as a free agent, there are going to be a lot more pass-rushing options this season, even if none of them are considered game-changing options. The more production they have, the more Walker could have, as he could see fewer snaps on the field, which in return would keep him fresher and allow him to be used in more blitz-heavy packages.

Walker will, without question, play a massive part on the Bears defense, but look for him to be used in multiple ways to get the most out of his versatility. Although they would love him to get to his sack numbers he had with the Titans, even a small improvement from 3.5 sacks to 5.0 sacks would be a massive lift for this defense. This will be one of the many players to watch this season, and even the smallest amount of improvement will go a long way in helping this Bears team reach their full potential.

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