Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker will make a team’s backfield “much better”

Kenneth Walker picked up a lot of steam with Heisman Trophy-worthy performances in 2021 for Michigan State. As the Doak Walker Award winner slowed down towards the end of the season and retired from the Peach Bowl, he increased his NFL Draft stock in his only season with the Spartans after a transfer from Wake Forest. NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger recently broke down his game movie and came away marveling at Walker’s abilities and how they would translate to the pros.

While there are questions about Walker’s pass-blocking skills before the NFL, he still remains a valuable weapon. He even recently mocked the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round.

Baldinger broke down Walker’s performance against Michigan in 2021 when reviewing the game’s film.

Kenneth Walker IIISparty trying to stay undefeated against the Wolverines,” Baldinger said at the start of the tape. “Michigan lining up a nine-man front to try and stop him. Let’s watch him go to work today. One of the great performances in college football. Color right there. Run away from color. That’s what we teach you. Now can you finish? Can you finish your shopping. Bam, that’s the end of your shopping. Let’s watch them here. OK, because Michigan has that 6-1 lead right there. They will stop Kenneth Walker. It’s a hit. It’s coming. There is the boo. Now, there’s not much there, is there? Can you get out in the soup? Can you get out of the soup and find some daylight and finish? Tap the hole. That’s what running backs are taught. Tap the hole. Engage the defense. Now use your skills. Blast. There are Aidan Hutchinson come and tackle. He’s going there Aidan Hutchinson. He only ran in the air. (Walker has) special skills. I just watch them here. Can we make something out of nothing? That’s what the big guys do. Pistol training, there it is. As if there was nothing, but that’s where the play begins. You missed them all. Now you have found some daylight. Now you have green grass. Go get as many as you can. Game in play, fourth quarter, can Michigan State upset the mighty Wolverines? 33-30, halfway through the fourth quarter, he is out again. There’s this wham right there. The tall ones just need a burst of daylight. Six inches of daylight, that’s what Gale Sayers said. That’s what he has now. You hit the jets. You press the accelerator pedal easy. Do you see that movement there? Look at this? This ability to give the leg and take it back on the spot and finish. There is this talent. Kenneth Walker III is going to make someone’s racing game that much better.

Walker had 263 carries for 1,636 yards (6.2 average) and 18 touchdowns in 12 games with Michigan State. He completed his production by catching 13 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown. The overall performance led to Walker being named the winner of the 2021 Doak Walker Award.

A transfer from Wake Forest, Walker had 480 carries for 2,794 yards (5.8 average) and 35 touchdowns in two saves. Walker originally joined Wake Forest on group-of-five offers as a three-star prospect from Arlington (Tenn.) High in the 2019 recruiting class.

Walker clocked 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash, plus a 34-inch vertical jump and a 122-inch wide jump. The 5-foot-9, 211-pound was 30 3/8-inch arms tall and 9 1/2-inch hands tall. Lance Zierlein, NFL draft analyst, compares Walker to Willie Parkera product of the North Carolina Tar Heels and two-time former Pro Bowl running back with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2004 to 2009.

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“Walker is a compact folder with a very powerful and sturdy base,” Zierlein writes in Introducing Walker on NFL.com. “He can find his own yards with a nervous change of direction when run blocking breaks down and has higher contact balance to add to his distance throughout the game. Walker is a very determined runner who is more responsive than instinctive leading to wild changes in his leading track He can handle the RB1 workload in terms of carries but needs work as a third down option Walker would benefit from better discipline of cutting-edge track, but his explosiveness and unpredictable style should always lead to success in the future entry.”

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