Dynasty Prospect Scouting Report: Kenneth Walker
Kenneth Walker, RB, Michigan State
40-yard dash: 4.38 seconds
3-cone time: DNP
Short shuttle: DNP
Broad jump: 122 inches
Vertical jump: 34.0 inches
A 3-star recruit out of Tennessee, Walker’s career began at Wake Forest.
He earned a backup job as a true freshman, seeing 98 carries behind senior Cade Carney’s 158. Three-star sophomore Christian Beal saw 71 carries despite playing 5 fewer games than Walker.
More playing time surfaced in year 2, and he turned into a TD machine. Running 119 times, Walker popped in 13 scores. The wild part is he did so in just 7 games.
And then came a curveball: Walker left Wake Forest in December of 2020 to enter the transfer portal.
In an ESPN interview, Walker admitted that he didn’t “fit in” with the Wake Forest offense. Clearly, the fit was strong in East Lansing.
Walker’s first play as a Spartan went for a 75-yard TD. It marked the beginning of a true breakout season for college football’s 2021 Doak Walker Award winner.
He handled 263 carries — a hefty share of ~70% — even after sitting out the Peach Bowl to prep for the NFL. Only 7 RBs nationwide topped Walker’s 18 rushing scores.
Look under the hood, and you’ll find more pro promise.
Per Pro Football Focus, Walker led the country in missed tackles forced. And, among 38 RBs with 200+ carries, Walker ranked top-3 in yards per carry, yards after contact per attempt, Elusive Rating and PFF rushing grade.
If there’s a spot where production waned — it was in passing situations. Walker registered just 13 catches at Michigan State; 6 across a pair of seasons at Wake Forest. Last year, his 0.44 yards per route run ranked 163rd among 169 RBs with 15+ targets.
It’s a small sample, sure. But the receiving game will be an area to monitor early in Walker’s pro career.
Similar concerns arise in the pass blocking department. Walker earned a PFF blocking grade of 41.3 last year, 108th among 144 RBs with at least 20 pass blocking snaps.
Another small sample. But again, we’ll need to see if he can make improvements there to secure a more fantasy-friendly role.
Now, when it comes to Walker's work on the ground, the 2021 tape looks excellent — not only compared to this year’s group, but compared to the 2020 class as well.
Let’s dive in…
Games watched: Michigan, Miami (FL), Northwestern, Rutgers
Off the bus, Walker looks like a pro back. He’s thickly built at 5’9, 211 pounds. That gives him a 75th percentile BMI, per PlayerProfiler.
He held up well last year, sustaining only a rolled ankle despite a large workload.
I noted Walker’s elusiveness above, and it shows up in several ways on tape. Exhibit one: Walker's ability to gain the edge on outside runs.
Exhibit 2: Walker's quick feet and burst. At the Combine, he registered a 10-yard split of 1.49 seconds -- a 95th percentile time, via MockDraftable. He certainly checks the speed box.
Walker also had several impressive improvisational runs show up on tape. Take the next clip, where he's able to dodge potential 1st overall pick Aidan Hutchinson. Walker finished the Michigan game with an absurd line of 23 carries, 197 yards and 5 TDs.
Walker feasted in the game below, too, torching Northwestern for 23-264-4 in his Michigan State debut. Walker's vision, lateral agility and smoothness through the hole make him a candidate to pop off big runs like this one:
It's tough to evaluate Walker's true receiving talent, as he saw only 16 targets -- a 4.3% share. His 13 catches ranked 6th on the team.
According to MaxPreps, Walker snagged 64 passes during his high school career. So there's at least some hope for a resurgence.
The final clip shows how he's at least a functional pass game option. In all likelihood, the Michigan State staff simply felt he was best utilized on the ground. Also note that MSU averaged only 18.7 completions and 30.8 attempts per game, so this was a run-balanced offense...
Strictly as a runner, Walker's a fairly easy evaluation. He packs the size, athleticism and production to forecast a role as a 1st/2nd-down option.
There’s been no shortage of buzz on him this spring, with the top-50 looking likely come April’s draft. There’s even a chance he goes ahead of Iowa State’s Breece Hall as the RB1.
Walker’s iffy receiving profile does have me favoring Hall, though. That’s not to say Walker can’t become a future top-12 asset. I just believe he’ll need to rely more on efficiency and scoring to get there.