Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State RB
He’s one of the stars of the 2022 college football season. But does Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III have a legitimate NFL Draft scout report? Ultimately, Walker’s skills should translate very well in the NFL, and he could be one of the first running backs taken in 2022. NFL Draft.
Kenneth Walker III NFL Draft Profile
- Position: To recover
- The school: Michigan State
- Current year: Junior
- Height: 5’10 “
- Weight: 210 pounds
Kenneth Walker III spotting report
Few players have bolstered their NFL Draft supply like Walker did in 2021. At the time of writing, Walker has nearly matched his career highs in just three games. He’s reached a new milestone in his career in terms of rushing efficiency, and it looks like he’s only just getting started.
In a class of running backs who might not have runaway leaders, Walker’s sudden success matters. Could Michigan State RB unexpectedly become one of the top running backs in the table in the 2022 NFL Draft? Let’s look at his recent Michigan State Strip to see if the traits match the production.
Kenneth Walker’s athletic profile
Walker is not a threat of overwhelming size at the level Isaiah Spiller is, but it still exceeds the threshold required for density. Walker is 5’10 “, 210 pounds and has a well-assembled frame. Within that frame, Walker has a lot of valuable traits, but his athleticism is what stands out in both space and congestion.
Walker might not be an elite athlete, but he does have some very capable athletic traits. The Michigan State RB are lively and explosive with their first cuts in the backfield. He can deviate suddenly. He prepares quickly after cuts and attacks open space with determination.
Taking it further, Walker has loose hips, and they allow him to stack cuts and dodging maneuvers. He also has great lateral agility, which he has shown more than once by avoiding soaring defenders in the backfield. Plus, Walker has solid speed in open space. He extends the limit and uses the open lanes once he reaches them.
Execution beyond physical traits
Walker’s athleticism ticks the box, but the Michigan State RB goes above and beyond with his execution. Walker’s most exciting execution trait might be his touch and overall poise and the way he uses that poise.
Walker has top level contact balance and density as a runner. He can get rid of leg tackles and twist to extend runs in congestion. However, when Walker is faced with immediate contact, he can lower his shoulder on impact and bounce off defenders. He often finishes his runs with a physique and actively seeks to maximize the big wins.
Walker’s physique helps embolden his contact balance, but the Michigan State RB also has excellent overall balance. He adjusts his running angles with ease while maintaining speed and inspires confidence with his low level as a runner. It has a large center of gravity and can lean through changes of direction without sacrificing its freedom of movement. With this balance, Walker is instinctive in the way he fights and negates fighting angles.
Among other things, Walker is decisive and urgent when choosing the initial paths. He also has excellent full-field vision and can manipulate second-tier defenders with his elusiveness. Going further, Walker has shown that he can use a stiff arm to negate defenders encroaching on his space. It is also flashed as a receiver. The Michigan State RB shows glimpses of body control, and it has the lateral agility to make the first defender miss on designed catches.
Areas of improvement
Going down the RB checklist, Walker isn’t missing much. That said, the Michigan State RB is not a perfect prospect. He can improve both as a runner and in other phases of his game.
Starting with his rushing ability, Walker occasionally comes into contact when his first cut doesn’t create space. It sometimes relies on congested lanes when it has avenues to bounce outside. Additionally, Walker sometimes complicates his footwork in the backfield too much and lets defenders come close. It also sometimes gets into a corner when it moves outside.
Taking it a step further, Walker’s vision – while strong – can be patchy at times. It doesn’t seem to be a question of what he sees, but rather what he does. He can go on autopilot with his cuts at times, but he has nonetheless shown that he can play in a controlled and composed manner.
Physically, Walker’s height – while also solid – isn’t overwhelming for tall defenders. Plus, it doesn’t have a foolproof escape speed. It can expand the space but won’t always get away with it.
Finally, Walker needs to improve his pass blocking. He’s not good there, and that will have an impact on how NFL teams perceive his three-way viability. Walker is not always there and does not engage his opponents. He falls too often while blocking, putting himself out of protection.
Kenneth Walker III NFL Draft Scout Report Sneak Peek
Walker will need to continue improving his pass blocking. While this is not often seen as a primary function for running backs, it is important for runners who want to see the field over all three tries. At the moment, Walker is not adequately protecting his quarterback, but he has time to improve.
In the other, more lucrative duties – as runner and catcher – Walker showed immense promise. Although he didn’t have a large sample size to catch the ball, Walker displayed coveted traits like body control and the ability to evade after the catch. And as a runner, Walker’s tape speaks for itself.
It’s a dense and explosive RB with a great burst, vision, instincts and a capacity for creation. He combines this skill set with a near elite balance, both against contact and in the midst of changes in direction. It’s early, but Walker already looks like a complete running back. There’s not much to suggest that he can’t be a starting RB in the NFL.
Player Profile for Kenneth Walker III
It’s been a winding journey for Walker, but when he had opportunities he never had a problem producing. In high school, Walker had 493 carries, 3,485 yards and 41 total touchdowns. He also crossed the 1,000 yard mark as a receiver, recording 1,058 yards and 15 touchdowns of 64 catches.
This production earned Walker three stars and he ultimately signed with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. He immediately entered the RB rotation at Wake Forest, but he never really broke as a starter. In his true freshman season, Walker had 579 yards and 4 touchdowns on 99 carries. He matched that yardage a year later and recorded 13 scores on 21 other attempts.
Kenneth Walker’s career at Michigan State and the rise of the NFL Draft
In January, Walker entered the transfer portal. Soon after, he announced his decision to attend Michigan State and play for head coach Mel Tucker. Ultimately, Walker would win the starting role with the Spartans, and now the real junior has already become an aspiring star.
Walker dominated through three games. In total, the Michigan State RB has 493 yards and 5 touchdowns on 57 carries. He also recorded his first career receiving a touchdown. Walker is currently averaging a career-high 8.6 yards per carry, nearly 3 full yards better than his previous career high of 5.9.
Walker is producing at a high standard, but in an appealing twist to NFL evaluators, he doesn’t have a lot of wear on his tires. The Michigan State RB is still young, but in his most recent starting action he has proven to be a level above the usual running back.
When the offseason rolls around, Walker might have an interesting decision to make. If he maintains this pace, he has the characteristics of being a running back at the start of the round. However, the Michigan RB may need to improve in the passing stage if they are to replace the other full backs on the board. But for now, he’s heading safely to the beach on Day 2.