Kenneth Walker III Draft Profile
Michigan State Running Back, Kenneth Walker III, is such a unique running back. He’s an old-school downhill thumper that has deceiving speed where he can get to the outside. When looking at his body type, he is a compact guy that runs low to the ground with a lot of power. Compared to the rest of the class, Walker is a consensus-top three running back. He is the favorite to be the first back chosen out of the bunch towards the end of the first round or early in the second. I have an early to mid-second-round grade on him, but I could see a playoff team with a need for running back like the Bills taking him at the end of day one. Walker is a perfect fit with Buffalo and would fit the smash-mouth style offense that they run. When it comes to pro-comparisons, he reminds me of Doug Martin, the old Buccaneers running back. Both are compact runners that could break a long run at any moment; Walker was a fun player for me to evaluate.
When watching Walker play ball, the first thing that stands out on tape is his contact balance. He keeps his legs churning through contact and breaks big run after big run. Walker never shies away from contact; his physicality and fearless running style fit perfectly for offenses that use a downhill running scheme. We do not see these types of runners too much nowadays, but Walker has the endurance to be a workhorse back. Two of his traits that mesh together perfectly are his patience and elusiveness. You can really tell that Walker likes to take his time to scan the defense in order to pick where he is going to run. Walker would benefit from playing behind a good offensive line so he has the time to find a running lane. Walker’s speed is a little funky; he has a certain type of slow speed. He doesn’t look like he is running super fast, but he is absolutely gashing the defense. When it comes to lateral speed, Walker would be able to fit in an outside-zone scheme, but he would be a better fit with a North-South rushing attack. As a runner, Walker has a low center of gravity which benefits when surging through contact. As I mentioned earlier, he is super elusive and defenses usually need more than one defender to bring him down. His low center of gravity helps him change directions and pivot like a small forward. Walker was one of the best running backs in all of college football last year and I am confident he’ll be a starting running back in the NFL in 2022.
There weren’t a lot of negatives to Walker’s game, which is a good sign, but there were a few areas that need improvement. Walker’s patience is awesome, but it can get him in trouble. If he is hanging out in the backfield for too long he’ll end up being swallowed up for a negative or minimal gain. Those negative runs are drive killers. One con to his game was his production as a receiver or lack thereof. He only had 13 receptions this year, but I don’t think it’s because he is a bad receiver, I just think that is how his offense was run. Team fits that come to mind are the Bills, Seahawks, and the Patriots. Depending on where Brian Daboll and Byron Leftwich land, Walker could be a good fit with their offenses as well. I’m a big fan of Kenneth Walker; I believe he has the potential to be a top ten RB in the NFL.
Contact Balance 9.75/10
Lateral Speed and Change of Direction 7.25/8
Receiving Threat 3.5/6
Long Speed 4.25/5
Pass Protection 4/5
Final Rating: 86
Pro Comparison: Doug Martin
Scheme Fit: Downhill Running System
Draft Grade: Early - Mid Second Round
Draft Projection: Late First - Early Second Round