By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Tuesday, March 19th, 2013 at 9:42 am in Oakland Raiders.
A transcription of a conference call with new Raiders defensive tackle Vance Walker conducted with local media?
Q: What other teams were involved and what made you decide on the Raiders?
Walker: I was talking to Seattle, the Giants, Philly and a couple of other teams, but I feel like they had lesser interest. As far as the Raiders, I feel I’m a great fit for what they’re trying to do. They showed me a lot of love for what I’ve been doing for the past four years, an appreciation, and that’s what really drew me to the Raiders is the fact that they realized I was a seventh-round pick and it hasn’t been easy pickings since I got into the league. It’s one of those things, I’ve been able to build on each year since I’ve been here and I’ve been successful.
Q: What is your sense of what they’re trying to do on defense?
Walker: Honestly, I watched a good bit of film with the guys and it’s pretty similar to what I’ve done in the past. For the most part, they like my versatility, they like the fact that I can play the nose, the three-technique or the defensive end. So anything they throw at us we’ll be fine and ready for and I think I’ll be fine and ready for it.
Q: Which most comfortable position on the defensive line?
Walker: Honestly, they’re all pretty much the same, you line up and you run that guy over that’s in front of you, you try your best to get that done. With that being said, I’ve been playing defensive tackle all my life, so I’m more familiar with the speed of the game down inside as opposed to outside. Things happen slower, you have to use your eyes better, but nonetheless, it’s all the same about being physical and speed as well.
Q: Was staying in Atlanta an option?
Walker: It was an option, but at the end of the day it was a better option to see which team could I grow with? Which team would I be able to reach my ceiling with? And at the end of the day, I thought Oakland was that place. It’s just a great bunch of guys, and the coaching, coach T and coach JT, I love the Falcons, don’t get me wrong. They did a great job of helping me develop, but as far as moving on in my career, I feel Oakland was the better pick. So yes, Atlanta did want me to stay, but just complications from little things kind of prevented that as well. Just the biggest room to grow I think was Oakland, out of all the teams that I could look at.
Q: On rotation basis, how many snaps were you getting in Atlanta and you think that number will go up in Oakland?
Walker: Definitely want them to increase, without a doubt, I believe, per game it was hard to say, depending on what the game plan was in Atlanta. I know for sure that I played 51 percent of the snaps in Atlanta, so it was a little bit more than half. Obviously I would love to play more and I’ve got a lot to prove as far as rushing the passer, which is something I know I can do and it’s something I’m willing to bring and I will bring to the table with the Raiders.
Q: Raiders have made it clear they’re looking for guys that might be under the radar, not bring drama, that not only like to play football but love to study it . . . does that sum you up?
Walker: Yes sir. I came from a place, Georgia Tech, if there wasn’t any football we’d be studying long and hard anyway. I brought that to the Falcons but I’ll definitely bring that to Oakland. It’s something that, just being a student to the game, and learning everything about your opponent or whatever the case is, getting that one up before you even hit the field.
Q: As seventh round pick did you come into league saying you belong or take it game by game?
Walker: I definitely felt like I belonged in the NFL and that would be regardless of the round I was picked in, whether it was seventh or first. That’s just me as a person. I always feel I have to prove something regardless if evervybody is for me or everybody is against me. Being a seventh round pick put more pressure on me to produce being in the position I was in just because I didn’t have that time that a higher draft pick would have as far as errors are concerned. If I made mistakes, I would be out of there so that definitely pushed me to realize my potential a lot faster. Other than that it’s about me as a player and I know what I’m capable of. I always try to be the best. That’s what I’m trying to get out of life and playing football.
Q: DA says scheme depends on players, would you be happy as 3-4 nose?
Walker: I’m perfectly fine with it. I would love it. As long as I get to play football you won’t hear one complaint out of me.
Q: Impressions of Raiders from game last year?
Walker: I always watch the defense whenever we’re playing a game I always watch the other team’s defense. I don’t pay too much attention to the offense. Obvioulsy I was playing against their offense. For the most part they had speed and tenacity. They were getting after Matt Ryan a good bit. They were putting hits on him and forcing mistakes and bad decisions. I think that’s what they’re about. The attitude and teh fact they’re going to hit you and hit you hard. It’s all mental. That’s what I took away from it. They did a really great job of setting the tone during that game. We came out and obviously we had our game plan but you could tell they were trying to impose their will on us and they did a really great job. The Raiders did a really great job as far as their attitude, being up on the other so they submit.
Q: Seems like Falcons fans sad you left and Raiders fans excited you’re here?
Walker: I honestly I didn’t. I was kind of stressed. I’ve been in Atlanta for eight years with Georgia Tech for four and teh Flacons for four. I’ve built a lot of relationships. The fan base in Atlanta are great as well. Not that I expected them to be negative toward me but they showed me a good bit of love. Teh Raiders fans tehy welcomed me to the team with open arms and I do appreciate that. As far as the Falcons, a lot of the fans realize my potential. I’ve been around town and ‘Why did they let you leave?’ Everything happens for a reason. I’m not down on it at all. Not one bit. I’m very excited for my opportunity. That’s about it for the most part.
Q: Where did name Swagger Vance come from?
Walker: That’s funny. It honestly came from Philip Wheeler. Philip Wheeler actually gave me that Twitter handle. It’s in relation to the movie with Will Smith. Not that I’ve seen the movie sadly enough. The Legend of Bagger Vance so he switched it up and made it the Legend of Swagger Vance. So that’s how it started. That’s what Philip gave me as my Twitter handle. ‘You know what Phil? Good idea.’
Q: Play with Wheeler at Ga Tech?
A: Yes sir. I played with him