New Bucs WR Derel Walker eager to reunite with Mike Evans
After two standout seasons in the CFL, receiver Derel Walker had all sorts of NFL interest in the past month, working out for eight teams, but one of the main things that won him over for the Bucs was the chance to play again with Mike Evans, a teammate and close friend from their days at Texas A&M.
"I felt comfortable when I went there, and it also gives me an opportunity to play with one of my best friends, Mike Evans," said Walker, who had prolific stats as one of the CFL's top receivers over the last two years. "It was the best situation and the best opportunity for me."
Walker had his choice of teams as a free agent and worked out for the Vikings, Bears, Redskins, Jaguars, Bengals, 49ers and Saints, some before and after his Bucs workout on Dec. 20, and he had three more workouts lined up before making the decision that he had what he wanted most with the Bucs.
Walker and Evans still talk and text every week -- in 2013, when Johnny Manziel was winning the Heisman Trophy and Evans was setting himself up as a first-round draft pick, Walker had 51 catches for 818 yards and five touchdowns. He got a brief look with the Titans, but has thrived with the Edmonton Eskimos -- 109 catches for 1,589 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, after getting 89 for 1,110 and six scores in being named the CFL's top rookie in 2015.
Walker, listed at 6-foot-1 and 188 pounds, likes the idea of lining up opposite Evans again, saying their individual strengths as receivers worked well together in college.
"Our games go off each other -- we feed off each other," said Walker, who got to meet Bucs QB Jameis Winston at Evans' wedding in February. "We're always going to push each other to better heights."
Walker has good size and speed, but said the asset that will translate best to the NFL is his route-running. "And being able to extend a play after the catch," he said. "I feel like that's a strong suit in my game."
Walker enjoyed his time in Edmonton -- the Eskimos won the Grey Cup in 2015 -- but he said he won't mind the change in climate ahead for him in Tampa.
"I got pretty tired of seeing the snow," he said. "It's nice to get some sun. ... I'm just grateful for the opportunity and looking forward to what the future holds."