2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Kenneth Walkerby Ryan Moran March 21, 2022 1 comment
Throughout the 2021 college football season, Kenneth Walker III was one of the most exciting players to watch. Walker was only a three-star recruit out of high school. Throughout the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Walker was in a limited role at Wake Forest. For the 2021 season, Walker opted to transfer to Michigan State where he got a starting opportunity and ran with it. His monstrous 2021 production led to a multitude of major awards such as the Walter Camp National Player of the Year, Consensus All-American as a Unanimous First-Team selection, and First-Team All-Big Ten.
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Name: Kenneth Walker
Jersey: No. 9
Position: Running Back
School: Michigan State
Weight: 211 lbs
Games Watched: Northwestern (2021), Miami (2021), Rutgers (2021), Michigan (2021)
Major Injury History: None
Walker possesses great vision when looking for space to run. He has good patience and will let things happen in front of him. From that point, he can get take the proper angle, get to the hole and gain yardage. When defenders take his running lane, Walker showed the ability to adapt. He can bounce runs to the outside when nothing is there for him inside the tackles. What he will need to get better with is trying to be too creative when nothing is there resulting in a loss. Ultimately, vision is one of Walker’s better traits.
Contact Balance (8.75/10)
The contact balance Walker has is tremendous. More times than not, at first contact, he has the innate ability to make defenders miss. He has good lower body strength. His frame is more compact and built low to the ground which he uses to his advantage. Where he does some of his best work in terms of contact balance is against lower tackles, as Walker typically works right through them. On inside runs, Walker will brace for contact and finish moving forward.
Walker is incredibly explosive. He has the ability to take it the distance at any given moment. His explosiveness is evident when it comes to his stop and start ability. He can make a move and explode picking up straight-line speed fast. When working inside the tackles on runs, Walker can identify the hole he needs to get to and run right through it with great speed.
Long Speed (9/10)
Walker has got great long speed. His ability to keep his speed is one of the key reasons for all of his big runs. He can finish big plays in the end zone without getting caught as a result of his long foot speed. At the scouting combine, Walker ran a 40-yard dash time of 4.38, great for a running back. The speed Walker has is one of his greatest attributes.
Short-Area Burst (8.75/10)
In short-areas, Walker can plant his foot in the ground and gain speed. While running inside, he can explode through the hole he is running through in no time. When he needs to bounce runs to the outside, Walker can quickly pick up the speed he needs to win getting to the edge. In short-areas, Walker has got a great ability to stop on a dime to make a defender miss and then pick up speed moving vertically in a hurry. Walker is dynamic in short-areas with his great athletic ability.
Change of Direction (9/10)
Walker is an exceptionally shifty back with the football. In the backfield, he can adjust where he is going to run as a result of his vision and with ease plant his foot in the ground to make a quick cut. In space, he is elusive. He can stop on a dime to put a move on a defender and make them miss. Overall, his ability to one-cut around the line of scrimmage and down the field is impressive.
On occasion, Walker will lower his shoulder as he braces for contact on inside runs. Ideally, though, his calling card will not be in a short-yardage or goal-line back type of role. Walker is not necessarily known for his frame and is not the tallest. When he needs to bring strength as a runner though, he is willing. Walker’s game in the NFL is likely not going to be about power.
Ball Security (9.25/10)
Walker will provide reliable ball security to the team that drafts him. He never showed any signs of not taking good care of the football. In 2021, he was featured in a big way with 263 carries and only had one fumble on the year. In the first two years of his college football career, he only had one fumble on 209 carries. Walker’s ball security is one of the many quality traits he has.
Receiving Ability (7/10)
Tying back into his reliable hands with ball security, when targeted, Walker showed he can reel in the football. He made a few tough grabs. The two concerns simply come from a lack of targets in the passing game and a very limited route-tree run. Most of his receptions came around the line of scrimmage on flats. If he can work on running more intricate routes, with more opportunities he has the hands to be a potential contributor as a receiver.
Pass Protection (2.25/5)
Probably the biggest current concern with Walker. In the limited opportunities when called upon as a pass blocker, Walker did not show much promise. His attempt to slow a defensive rusher at times was not great. From there, he lacks the size and stature to finish a block. As long as he can improve as a receiver and have some role on third-down and passing situations it will be good enough for Walker.
Walker is one of the more electric players in the 2022 NFL Draft. With more starting experience, he should only continue to grow and build on his immense 2021 success. The most exciting traits Walker will provide a team with are his speed, vision, contact balance, quickness, one-cut ability, and ball security. If he can progress with his route running, he proved his hands are capable enough as a receiver. Walker is best suited in an inside-outside zone running scheme, where he can read with his vision, plant his foot in the ground, and accelerate. His lack of proven production in the passing game will hurt his draft stock. His running ability ultimately makes him worthy of a day two selection.
Rookie Projections: Solid Early Down Running Back
Third Year Projections: Potential Top-10 Running Back
Final Grade (83.5/100): Mid Second-Round Pick
Player Comp: LeSean McCoy
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