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  • NCAA Rushing Leader Kenneth Walker III

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    Kenneth Walker III has taken the FBS by storm at his new school, but does his skillset transfer to the NFL?


    Kenneth Walker III started off his NCAA football career playing for Wake Forest University. During his freshman season, he was used in a committee and averaged a healthy 5.9 yards per carry. For his sophomore year, Walker was featured more, receiving an average of 17 carries per game, producing 4.9 yards per carry and 13 touchdowns in seven games.

    Walker then decided that it was in his best interest to transfer. The decision was tough considering he could not even visit whichever school he chose next due to Covid19 restrictions. Walker chose Michigan State because Coach Mel Tucker and Running Backs Coach William Peagler made Walker feel comfortable.

    The Spartans coaching staff was in dire need of adding rushing talent. The team did not record a single rushing touchdown from a running back in 2020 and had only two total all season. Enter Kenneth Walker III. He has been the most explosive runner in all of college football so far in this season.

    Walker ranks 1st in rushing yards (493), tied for 7th in touchdowns (5) with only two less than first, and second in yards per carry (8.65 ypc) after just three games. Let’s take a look at how Walker’s skill set can translate to the NFL.

    Kenneth Walker III Strengths

    Walker runs with great strength and contact balance. He rarely gets taken down on initial contact and has zero issues running through arm tackles. Watch this clip where you see how strong as a runner Walker is. The defensive lineman makes initial contact, though he does not actually go until he gets hit by the fourth defender:

    You can see his powerful style of running once again in this clip. Walker is initially hit behind the line of scrimmage but ends with a three-yard gain:

    Watch how his legs never stop moving and he shows incredible leg drive for the extra yardage to prevent being taken down for a loss. Walker always finishes his runs strong, always falling forward as you could see at the end of that last clip.

    Watch here as Walker waits for his block to set up, though the initial defender was missed. He exudes great patience to allow the play to be set up. Walker showed plenty of burst to get outside, turn the corner, and make it to the pylon for the score:

    Walker is a true one-cut and go-style running back. Watch here as he allows the play to develop, then plants his foot and shoots the hole with a very good burst to break into the second level for the big gain.

    Walker has plenty of short-area quickness to bounce outside and turn the corner. He keeps his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage which allows him to see the field better and now tip his hat as to which direction he plans to cut. His cutbacks show fantastic lateral agility and quick feet allow him to keep speed and accelerate without losing ground. There is very little wasted movement in Walker’s game.

    Kenneth Walker Weaknesses

    Walker has not shown to be a very productive pass catcher during his NCAA career. Over his first two and a half seasons, Walker only has nine total receptions. On the plus side, three of those nine have come during his breakout campaign this season. With so few targets in the passing game, it is truly hard to determine if it is truly a weakness, though teams can figure that if Walker is in, he is not being targeted.

    What I did see in his repetitions in the passing game is lackluster effort when running routes. It seems that he himself knows that he is not going to be targeted, so in his under routes and routes out of the backfield, he makes his initial cut and then shows little effort afterward.

    What I did see is Walker split out wide on a couple of offensive pass plays, though I would consider him more of a decoy than an actual receiving threat. His route did not consist of any release at the line or attempt at any cuts or breaks, just literally ran in a straight line.

    Summary

    Walker is a fantastic runner, and I do believe that he will garner some NFL attention. If Walker could show improvement in the passing game, I think he could be a legitimate second or third-round draft pick in the upcoming draft. I do not see that happening though in half of a season. What does that mean for Walker?

    There are only a couple of running backs in the league that are only true on-the-ground running backs. Nick Chubb is exceptional and is probably the most known. He has Kareem Hunt to back him as his receiving back. Damien Harris is another in New England. He has James White to back him as a receiving threat.

    If you are looking to make a huge impact as a runner in the NFL, you need to be able to show that you can catch the ball. Walker has the ability to be an early-down beast, though it will not land him a high-volume role. Because of this, he likely lands in more of the fourth or fifth-round range.


    Thank you for reading! Follow me on Twitter at @JoeyTheToothIDP, and check out all of my IDP, Devy, and Offensive work on my IDP Guys author page. Stay up to date with the latest breaking news in fantasy football with The IDPGuys!

    Joseph Haggan

    I am the content manager for IDPGUYS and Co-Host of the IDP Lounge. Creator or the top IDP scoring/rankings tool. Aspiring prospect scout.
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