When the Ravens drafted Texas Southern cornerback Tray Walker in the fourth round of the NFL draft, they understood that he was in demand in the middle rounds.
Although he was regarded as a sleeper after not being invited to the NFL scouting combine, Walker had shined at the NFL super regional combine. A big press cornerback at 6 feet 2, 200 pounds with 4.42 speed in the 40-yard dash, Walker had visited the Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons. Walker also had private workouts with the Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans.
The Ravens faced competition for Walker. So, they were pleased to be able to land him where they did with the 136th overall selection of the draft.
"He's a guy that we had targeted," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who praised general manager Ozzie Newsome and assistant general manager Eric DeCosta. "We really hoped to get him in the draft. He's a guy that we wanted to get in the mid-rounds. We were looking to try to draft him, and we were able to do it.
"We know for a fact that he would have been gone with our next pick in the fifth round. He was going to be taken early in the fifth round, so we got him right in the right spot – great kudos to Eric and Ozzie for getting that done – and we're pleased to have him."
Walker is making the transition to the NFL from a smaller school. He is the first Texas Southern player to be drafted since wide receiver Joey Jamison went to the Green Bay Packers in the fifth round in 2000. He's the highest draft pick for the school since center Joe Burch went in the third round to the New England Patriots in 1994.
Walker arrives in the NFL with a lot of motivational fuel after Texas Southern was the only school to offer him a scholarship out of Miami Northwestern High School. Walker played at the same high school as a pair of first-round draft picks: Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper.
Walker intercepted nine career passes while competing in the relatively-obscure Southwestern Athletic Conference, which is at the Football Championship Subdivision level.
"I felt as if coming from a SWAC school we are overlooked," said Walker, who's signed to a four-year, $2.65 million contract that includes a $345,692 signing bonus. "We don't get as much media and publicity as other schools, I do feel that way."