The 2022 NFL Draft boasts some impressive depth at a variety of positions. It seems as though everywhere you look there are potential starters who just aren’t being talked about at the national level.
There are so many good prospects in this year’s draft class that it can be hard for any one of them to stand out the way they might in another year.
Penn State left tackle Rasheed Walker, for instance, received some draft buzz during the 2021 College Football season. However, his star seemingly faded as Penn State stumbled down the stretch. However, Walker has an intriguing blend of size, athleticism, play strength and demeanor that could make him a sleeper for teams in need of offensive line help.
Could Walker be a diamond in the rough for a team like the New York Giants who need to add multiple players to their offensive line?
Prospect: Rasheed Walker (53)
Games Watched: vs. Wisconsin (2021), vs. Auburn (2021), vs. Ohio State (2021), vs. Michigan (2021)
Games Played: 32 (10 starts in 2022)
Best: Athleticism, play demeanor, run blocking
Worst: Consistency, lunging
Projection: A developmental offensive tackle with starting upside
(Walker is the left tackle, number 53)
Penn State’s Rasheed Walker is a big, long, and athletic offensive tackle prospect.
Walker is a red-shirt junior with 32 starts at left tackle under his belt and sports a good frame for the NFL. Walker is listed at 6-foot-6 and 330 pounds, and appears to have long arms. He has good athleticism for his size and moves well laterally and shows good explosiveness when playing downhill.
Walker has good lower-body flexibility to sit into his stances and play with good knee bend. Walker typically plays with good hip and pad level to maximize his play strength, as well as a wide base to absorb power. He also has the foot speed to mirror speed rushers off the edge in pass protection.
Walker makes good use of his hands, doing a good job of firing his punch into defenders’ chest plate. He doesn’t hesitate to use his punch and has heavy hands to disrupt rushers early in the rep. Walker is also a capable hand-fighter and can often defeat defenders’ initial pass rush moves.
He is also a capable run blocker who plays with something of a nasty streak. Walker is capable of executing both man-gap and zone schemes well and does a good job of consistently generating movement off the line of scrimmage. He plays with good leverage as a run blocker, getting under defenders’ pads before uncoiling his hips and driving them off the line of scrimmage. Walker can be seen blocking defenders well downfield, as well as trying to finish the rep with his man on the ground.
While Walker shows significant upside on the field, he needs to play with more consistency in his technique. Most of the issues in his game can be traced to a loss of leverage. Walker’s knees can be prone to straightening when he is pressing – either forced to play overly fast by circumstance or when facing particularly athletic speed rushers.
When Walker’s knees straighten he is prone to bending at the hips, which usually results in lunging or having his hands go wide. That can lead to some easy wins for opposing pass rushers.
This isn’t a consistent issue with Walker’s game, and he can also appear comfortable and balanced against those same opponents, suggesting the issue is correctable.
Walker can also be a bit prone to losing track of defenders on longer reps, suggesting that he needs to work on his situational awareness.
Overall Grade: 7.3
Rasheed Walker has the potential to push for a starting offensive tackle job early in his career. He has all the requisite physical and athletic traits to start on the edge in the NFL, and he should have the scheme diversity to appeal to a variety of different teams around the League.
That said, teams might elect to let Walker sit early in his career as he irons out the wrinkles in his game. He certainly has the potential to be an every-down starter at offensive tackle, but teams might not trust the inconsistencies they see on tape.
The good news here is that there doesn’t seem to be a persistent issue with Walker’s game or athletic profile. His issues with lunging should be correctable by a good offensive line coach as long as Walker is willing to put in the work as well. And it would be well worth it for a team to invest the time in finishing Walker’s development. When he is on his game, he flashes a good feel for hand fighting, a fluid and balanced kick-slide, and the ability to match up against both power and speed. He does everything an NFL team looks for in a starting offensive tackle – he just needs to get comfortable enough in his technique to do it every time.
Walker’s quickest path to a starting line-up would likely be on the left side, as that’s where all of his collegiate starting experience has been. However, he should be able to transition to the right side without issue, we just don’t know how long that transition would take.