Erik Walden: 2012 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Erik Walden
Erik Walden

1) Introduction:  Packers outside linebacker Erik Walden came into the 2012 training camp with slim odds of staying on the roster.  The team had just drafted Nick Perry with their first round pick and Perry would surely get every opportunity to start opposite Clay Matthews.  The team also saw undrafted rookie Dezman Moses emerge durin camp and it looked lik Walden was all but out the door.  When it became apparent that the Packers would need some depth as Perry developed, they decided to hang onto Walden.  When Perry went down early in the season and Moses wasn’t quite ready to be an every-down player, Walden became the starter at LOLB as he had been in 2011.

2) Profile:

Erik Lashawn Walden

  • Age: 27
  • Born: 8/21/1985 in Dublin, GA
  • Height: 6’02”
  • Weight: 250
  • College: Middle Tennessee State
  • Rookie Year: 2008
  • NFL Experience: 5 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Walden’s initial expectations were low as his ability to stay on the roster was in question from day one of the Packers offseason program.  When he was kept after training camp, Walden was there to serve as a veteran backup.  With Frank Zombo on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, the Packers needed the depth at this vital position in its defense.  When Perry went down early in the season, Walden became the starter and was expected to solidify the left side of the pass rush/run defense and improve over his 2011 performance.  Walden moved to the left side when Matthews moved back to the right side.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Walden had very few highlights in 2012 and unfortunately showcased why he was supposed to be no more than a backup and depth at the OLB position.  His best game came in week five against the Indianapolis Colts.  It wasn’t a flashy game for Walden, but he did post three quarterback hurries.  He was effective in his pass coverage as well.  That was just one of three weeks in which Walden scored in the positive according to Pro Football Focus.  In the week nine game against the Arizona Cardinals, Walden had a key interception that kept momentum on the Packers’ side until they eventually ran away with that game.  Walden’s low lights were weeks six and beyond.  If that seems harsh, consider that Pro Football Focus had Walden graded lower than every other outside linebacker in the NFL in 2012.  He was largely ineffective and showed no improvement over 2011.  He was a complete non-factor in the two playoff games and was manhandled badly in the divisional playoff game against the 49ers.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success:  Walden did remain healthy and his only missed game came in week one when he was serving a suspension.  In the two games that Walden graded out best, the Packers lost.  One of those games was the week three game at Seattle.  We all know how that ended.  The other was the game at Indianapolis.  Other than being an 11th body on the field, Walden did little else to help the Packers get back to a deep playoff run and re-establish the effective pass rush.  He was often unable to set the edge in run defense and was rarely able to make his way to the quarterback in a pure pass rush.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Walden did next to nothing during the postseason that is noteworthy on the positive side.  Against an elevated level of competition, Walden was, time and again, pushed out of the way and completely out of position to make a play.  This was most evident in the divisional round game at San Francisco when he barely laid a hand on 9ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick all night.  Most of that ineffectiveness was because he continued to crash down in run support instead of reading the ball which was often not in the running back’s hands.  This left way too much running room for Kaepernick.

Season Report Card:

(D+) Level of expectations met during the season

(D+) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(F) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  D


Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on

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7 thoughts on “Erik Walden: 2012 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

  1. I really like Walden. I will always remember his game in 2010 where he dominated Cutler. But he probably was not better than average, and maybe worse this last year.

    He is an excellent back-up. I think he deserves better grades than he has recieved here. He stepped in and stayed healthy. People want to blame him for defensive failures up front, but maybe we should blame the starter at that position for not staying healthy, and Be happy that walden stepped up and played hard, even though he was supposed to be the back up.

    1. I agree Walden is a backup and nothing more and he plays hard, but he is limited. Don’t know what grade you would give him, but his play didn’t equate a better grade, even if his expectations was only as a backup. He did the best he could, just isn’t a good player as anything other than a backup.

  2. every game I watched, Walden would get caught inside and everyone would run around him. couldn’t hold the edge, and I am sure the coaches let him know that was his responsibility.

  3. As I watched the end of the SB I wondered why the 49ers didn’t run the ball in from the 5 but rather threw 3 incomplete passes to lose the game. Then I remembered that Walden played for the Packers and not the Ravens.

  4. The lowest rated OLB from week 6 on says it all. TT needs to find a better OLB for backup to Perry. One that is at least in the middle of the OLB ratings.

  5. A comment from Kaepernick after beating GB says it all. SF game planned Walden specifically. His tendency to turn his shoulders toward the direction he’s planning to rush allowed Kaepernick to fake a running play into the line and call blocking schemes that took advantage of Walden’s tendency to over-commit leaving off-tackle or outside wide open for K’s runs. When there is a player that can be game planned aginst you’ve got a problem. It’s been four years and no one has been able to improve him yet. As a backup he can be ok, no more. As a starter he is a complete failure. He is one of the major weaknesses in the Packer front 7. Must fix that LOLB spot. Perry should be able to do the job. A quality backup in the draft wouldn’t hurt.

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