Kenneth Walker III was the best running back in college last season, which is why he's one of the top prospects at the position in the 2022 NFL Draft. After flashing his potential across two seasons at Wake Forest, Walker transferred to Michigan State and broke out in a big way. He piled up 1,636 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground while handling a heavy workload for the Spartans. He's best suited for early-down work in the pros, but that doesn't mean he can't make an impact in that role.
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Kenneth Walker III Draft Profile
College: Michigan State
The Wake Forest transfer ended up being one of the surprise stars of the 2021 season, showing off an outstanding combination of lateral agility and pure power. He explodes in and out of cuts, which along with his vision allows him to take advantage of cutback lanes. He’s a handful for linebackers once he gets to the second level, creative and quick but mostly powerful, with the ability to run through tackles and rip off chunks of yards. His long speed is good, but he’s a big-play threat because he so frequently breaks tackles at the second and third levels. He’s obviously capable of handling a workhorse load and thrived as a closer; Walker averaged 7.5 yards per carry in the fourth quarter/overtime last season. He’s going to be able to hold up as a pass protector on third downs, allowing him to stay on the field.
He’s, at best, unproven as a pass-catcher, though the fact that neither program he played at used him in the passing game in any significant way gives a clue as to how they felt about his receiving skills. Backs who avoid contact tend to hold up better in the long term, and teams don’t often invest a big second contract in backs who, stylistically, play like Walker.
He’ll enter the league as a back with third-down limitations, but Walker’s ability to create yards as a runner — at a time when teams around the league are looking to take advantage of smaller, faster defenses — still holds plenty of appeal. He should be a starter earlier and will appeal to any team looking to take a power-running/play-action passing approach.
Final Grade: 2nd/3rd Round