Ken Walker III
RB - SEA
5'9", 211lb, 31.2 BMI 4.38 forty, 96th percentile speed score. Likely a committee backfield, bad quarterbacks, play NFC/AFC West and will trail heavily, terrible O-line, low-volume offense. Carroll had a glowing -- even by his standards -- assessment of Ken Walker III, saying he's surprised at how well-rounded the rookie RB has become. Said he's "turned the page" with his college pass-pro struggles. "He could play all three downs and we'd feel comfortable with it."
Kenneth Walker could also emerge from camp as the starter. Walker's 99th percentile college dominator and 96th percentile speed score will be a welcome sight for Pete Carroll. We know the Seahawks want to establish the hell out of it with one of Drew Lock or Geno Smith looking like a possible Week 1 starter at quarterback. Since 2018 the Seahawks are third in neutral script rushing rate, so the volume will be there to support one elite-level back or tandem of backs with weekly RB2 or high RB3 potential.
Kenneth Walker III made a massive splash upon transferring to Michigan State in 2021, leading his class in rushing yards (1,634), missed forced tackles (89) and explosive runs (46) en route to winning the Doak Walker Award - an honor bestowed upon college football's best running back.
His success earned him a 34% dominator rating, which considers the number of touchdowns and receiving yards a player commands within their offense.
The number is solid considering Walker commanded just a 4% target share in his junior year, catching 13 passes for 80 receiving yards.
His massive accomplishments this past season were inevitable after he rushed for 13 touchdowns as PFF's 15th-best graded running back in 2020 as a sophomore at Wake.
With the second-most missed tackles forced over the past two seasons - trailing only Iowa State's Breece Hall - and third-most rushing yards after contact, Walker possesses the groundwork to be an effective rusher at the next level. Breaking tackles and creating after contact in college translates to the pros extremely well, as seen most recently by Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams.
Williams led the nation in missed tackle rate (48%) in his final season at North Carolina and would go on to lead the NFL in the same metric at the conclusion of his stellar rookie season.
Elusiveness is just one trait Walker has in common with Williams, as both skipped their senior years to enter the draft. Declaring early is a positive sign for a running back in dynasty formats, as they save themselves from another year of wear and tear.
The lack of work in the passing game is really the only major blemish on Walker's prospect profile because his testing at the NFL scouting combine was also exceptional. He weighed in at 211 pounds and ran a 4.38 40-yard dash (96th percentile).
"The player I am avoiding is running back Kenneth Walker III. With a rookie draft ADP in the top-3, it's just too steep a price to pay for a running back that is projected to be used heavily on early downs on an offense that easily projects to be bottom-5 in the NFL led by the unsurprising duo of Drew Lock/Geno Smith at quarterback.
Even if Walker can carve out a first-year workload similar to that of Chris Carson circa 2020 - 16.4 touches per game, 56% snaps share when healthy - it's still going to be a massive uphill battle for him to be a fantasy producer in Year 1.
Pete Carroll has a stable of backs including Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas who all figure to work in at some point despite Walker's Round 2 draft capital.
Again, even when Carson was the RB1, he was splitting snaps.
Penny was brought back on a one-year deal for $5 million (12tth-highest cap hit), Chris Carson - if healthy - is due $6.1 million (10th-highest cap hit) and Homer/Dallas have routinely worked as pass-catchers out of the backfield.
Seattle also finished dead-last in targets to the RB position last season, creating serious doubt that Walker will be used in that fashion in any capacity as a rookie. Part of that is on Russell Wilson's lack of juice in the screen game, but the offense itself doesn't predicate much RB pass-game usage. Geno Smith posted a meager 12% RB target rate (three per game) in his three starts last season. Drew Lock was at 17%.
The Seahawks have the chance to be a running back by committee and dumpster fire on offense this season for all the reasons I've laid out, which is why I am adamantly against paying the premium for Walker. If this team falls behind in games, there's no telling which RB will even be on the field.
I feel so much better about going with one of the many rookie WRs selected in Round 1 ahead of Walker based on his landing spot.
Hopefully, opportunities should open in this backfield in Year 2 for Walker with Penny likely leaving in free agency. But does he get replaced with another Day 2 running back? Will Seattle's offense even be efficient in 2023 and beyond? So much uncertainty with this entire situation has me hesitant.
6/22: Rashaad Penny in "driver's seat"... but also Ken Walker is a complete HORSE & Penny has big injury history. Easy guy to fall in love with
This is one of my favorite draft picks. Ken Walker is going to a team that has been top 5 in run percentage 6 of the last 10 years, and Carroll says he wants to get back to the run. Carson may never paly football again and Penny has never impressed in the opportunities he has been afforded. Ken walker will go later in the draft than where I have him ranked but he will finish the year as a top 15 RB.
I actually really like Walker landing in Seattle. Carson has health concerns and Penny is on a one year deal. Walker could be the #1 RB in this backfield this year, and his dynasty outlook is great.
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