CFL on TSN’s Dustin Nielson: ‘not sure’ Elks’ Derel Walker ‘can play in the league anymore’

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

CFL on TSN play-by-play commentator Dustin Nielson has seen lots of Derel Walker during his career in the league and all but one year has been in Edmonton.

The two-time league all-star re-signed with the EE Football Team in January and the expectations were high.

“Derel Walker’s season has been atrocious — absolutely atrocious. It’s been so poor that I’m not sure he can play in the league anymore,” Nielson said on TSN 1260 radio.

“This is a guy who had 1,000 yards in Toronto in 2019. Now he can’t catch a ball, he can’t win a battle.”

The 30-year-old Walker has been targeted 75 times by Elks quarterbacks so far this season and caught 40 of those passes for 468 yards with zero touchdowns. Through 74 games in the CFL, Walker has 402 receptions for 5,716 yards and 32 touchdowns while averaging 14.2 yards per catch.

“He does not look anything like the player I thought he would be this year,” Nielson said.

Walker made 65 catches for 1,040 yards — 16 yards per reception — and six touchdowns during his only season with the Argonauts in 15 games. He was named an East Division all-star for being a consistent go-to target for quarterbacks McLeod Bethel-Thompson and James Franklin.

During 2018, Walker hurt his left leg in the second quarter of Edmonton’s Labour Day loss to Calgary when it bent awkwardly during a tackle. He didn’t play again the rest of that season, but still recorded 51 grabs for 875 yards and eight touchdowns in 11 games. Those totals were enough for Walker to earn West Division all-star status.

The two-time CFL all-star and 2015 Grey Cup champion signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in January of 2017. He made one reception for 15 yards in four pre-season games and Walker was released by the Bucs among the final cuts after training camp, which made him a free agent. Walker signed with Edmonton midway through 2017, posting 48 catches for 634 yards and two touchdowns in eight games while scoring a rushing touchdown.

One year earlier, Walker finished second in CFL receiving yards during the 2016 season with 1,589 and added a team-leading 10 touchdowns on 109 catches in 17 games. He had 1,110 yards and six touchdowns on 89 catches in just 12 games and was the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie in 2015.

The six-foot-two, 188-pound pass catcher had a stellar senior season at Texas A&M University with Johnny Manziel throwing him passes. Walker snagged 51 balls for 818 yards and five touchdowns. He went unselected in the 2014 NFL draft, but signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Tennessee Titans.

After failing to record a catch in four pre-season games, Walker was released by the Titans and made his way to Canada.