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2022 NFL Draft: Scouting report on Seahawks second-round pick Kenneth Walker lll

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan State Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

With the 41st pick of the 2022 NFL Draft the Seattle Seahawks selected running back Kenneth Walker lll out of Michigan State. Running back was a sneaky need for Seattle due to Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny’s respective contract statuses and injury histories. Both are in the final year of their contracts and the two of them combined for 29 total games over the past two seasons, and Carson’s neck problems could threaten his career. On top of that with Pete Carroll’s love of running the football and the likelihood of getting a young quarterback at some point during 2023 this selection makes a lot of sense.


Prospect: Kenneth Walker lll

Games watched: 2021 Michigan, Nebraska, Miami, Ohio State

Measurables - 5 foot 9 - 211 pounds


Strengths

  • Walker lll is an extremely shifty athlete who can change gears seamlessly. He has fantastic speed as he can beat second level defenders to the edge with relative ease as well as being able to run away from them 15 plus yards down the field. He has great change of direction when navigating tight areas and in the open field which allows him to make multiple players miss in quick succession. He can stick his foot in the ground and cut up the field with relative ease.
  • A relatively patient runner as he stays light on his toes and waits for his blocks to develop in front of him. He is willing to slow himself down to follow his lineman to further open up holes. He pairs with great vision as he can see small holes that develop in front of him and hit them quickly. His vision allows for him to quickly identify cut back lanes when his intended run gap gets closed.
  • Has the ability to get skinny when identifying holes and squeezing through them. He possesses the upper body strength that allows for him to fight through arm tackles without losing a step. He has fantastic contact balance as he easily bounces off defenders who are trying to tackle him while keeping his center of gravity.
  • Very strong lower half and is able to keep fighting even when in a pile near the line of scrimmage. He has great leg drive, and his feet never stop moving which allows him to always pick up extra yards and makes him a significant weapon in short yardage situations or near the goal line.
  • Walker lll can deliver the boom as he is consistently able to run over bigger defenders. He invites contact rather than running away. He very rarely gets tackled by the first defender who makes contact with him as a result.
  • Walker lll does not have as much tread on the tire as most running backs who are taken in the first two rounds. He only had 480 carries in his three years compared to No. 36 overall pick and New York Jet Breece Hall, who received 718 at Iowa State, and Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 first-rounder Najee Harris who had 638 rushing attempts in college. This is something that increases the likelihood of him receiving a second contact.
  • As a pass catcher Walker has very good hands which allow him to make routine catches as well as catches away from his body with his hands.

Weaknesses

  • Walker lll is a very bad pass blocker. He gets run through by second level defenders with relative ease and has no ability to set any kind of anchors. He is adequate as a cut blocker but too often throws himself right at the feet of the defender allowing them to quickly avoid him. When chipping Walker softly throws his shoulder into the defender’s chest or side which does not affect their path at all. He is late to pick up second level blitzers, often taking the wrong defender or helping a lineman when someone is coming free.
  • He does not bring much to the table as a route runner and is not going to threaten backers at the stem of the route.
  • Walker lll does not switch hands with the ball as a runner often keeping it on the side of the defender when getting to the edge. This increases the chances of a fumble on the play but also takes away the stiff arm as an option for him to avoid a tackle. He does not have a plus stiff arm, but it is usable.
  • Walker lll was diagnosed with blood clots in high school which was originally believed to end his football career although it was corrected with medication. If this is something that could become a problem down the road it is likely he would have fallen further in the draft, but it is something that I thought should be mentioned in this report.

Schematic fit

Walker lll is a great fit in Shane Waldron's zone running scheme thanks to his ability to stay patient and wait for holes to develop.


Overall thoughts

Walker is an impact day one player for the Seahawks and, removing positional value, is a great pick. It will be interesting to see how the organization splits the carries between himself, Penny, and Carson. If they can preserve him a bit this year paired with the fact that he had a smaller rushing attempt total in college, it is more than realistic to expect Walker lll to be an impact player when on his second contract with the Seahawks.