The game of football is constantly evolving. When the very fundaments of the sport aren’t eroding against time, clashing philosophies and innovations make each year a must-watch spectacle. Even amidst all this change, however, there is something we can always count on staying the same. Offensive line play matters, and having good offensive line play can be an irreplaceable competitive advantage. Thus, the play of Penn State OT Rasheed Walker is of great interest. What does Walker’s NFL Draft scouting report entail, and can he be a franchise left tackle in the NFL?
Rasheed Walker NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Offensive Tackle
- School: Penn State
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height: 6’6″
- Weight: 320 pounds
Rasheed Walker Scouting Report
Walker was already a known quantity before the 2020 season. In 2019, he started all 13 games for the Nittany Lions as a redshirt freshman. Then, in 2020, he reprised his role, locking down Sean Clifford’s blindside.
Walker returned to college football as one of the best tackles in the nation. And in a relatively unsettled class, he had a chance in 2021 to gain a foothold at the top. Did he do that, or did he leave something on the table in his quest to become an NFL tackle?
Rasheed Walker’s athletic profile
It always starts with the athletic foundation for NFL players. You will find outliers — less athletic players who manage to carve out roles. However, more often than not, the better athletes simply perform at a better level across the board. Having plus physical traits puts one at a competitive advantage. Penn State OT Walker may not be elite, but he has upside.
He possesses excellent size, standing at around 6’6″ and 320 pounds. With that frame comes long arms and a wide blocking radius. For his size, Walker flashes easy moving ability. He has an explosive get-off on the line, and he shows glimpses of solid lateral burst. Walker might not be an elite athlete in space, but he still has more than enough mobility for his size.
In addition to his straight-line burst, Walker has solid recovery athleticism. Furthermore, he’s fairly strong as well. With his dense frame, he can absorb contact, recoil, and impose his natural power. When in position, Walker has the tensile strength to negate edge rushers. And at its best moments, his grip strength holds up to resistance.
Execution beyond the physical traits
Walker is a solid physical talent at the tackle position, but how does he supplement this with the operational part of his game? Does he boast the scouting report of a complete tackle?
Walker flashes decent knee bend, and he has the capacity to lower his pad level and increase his leverage — although he can be more consistent here. He often keeps his shoulders square to his target and possesses solid leg drive blocking in motion. With his leg drive and grip strength, Walker’s mauler DNA shines through, especially as a run blocker. He always blocks to the whistle and isn’t shy about sending defenders into the dirt.
At his best moments, Walker works well in imbalanced situations. Explosive edge rushers can sometimes get a step on him and create displacement. Still, the Penn State OT has the blocking range and leverage awareness to hold his ground even at a geometric disadvantage. Ideally, edge rushers simply don’t get a step on him — but Walker has the ability to recover at times. The Penn State OT’s awareness shows up in other phases as well.
Walker’s hands also generate plenty of excitement. When Walker has proper positioning, he has the wherewithal to get under his opponent’s pads and extend quickly, establishing a robust anchor in pass protection. In addition, Walker’s hands can be extremely fast and violent, and he actively uses hip rotation to quicken his punches.
Areas for improvement
Coming into 2021, Walker’s scouting report was fairly strong. In fact, Walker was, at one point, a top five tackle. Inconsistencies across the 2021 season, however, diluted his stock, and raised questions regarding his projection.
Walker’s balance was largely underwhelming when placed under the microscope in 2021. He can sometimes be thrown off-platform when faced by opponents with substantial power and length. Additionally, there are times when he’s caught out of position and is forced to lean. When he’s challenged laterally, he can lose his balance quickly, and become a turnstile against rushers who know how to exploit him.
In the same vein, Walker sometimes lurches when trying to match defenders around the edge. In that process, his footwork can be a bit choppy and staggered. It doesn’t help that Walker isn’t the most fluid or flexible tackle. He has his moments and flashes solid athleticism, but he often appears a bit stiff laterally, and can be vulnerable to stunts and swims. He’ll need to improve his efficiency of motion in the NFL.
Among other things, Walker can be a bit more consistent with his hand precision, and he can also work to attain greater leverage. Without elite knee bend, Walker sometimes plays with too high a pad level. At that high pad level, it can be easy for opponents to get under Walker and knock him off-platform. It can also be more difficult for Walker himself to generate maximum power.
Moreover, Walker’s outside hand seems to be more inconsistent than his inside hand. Particularly against Michigan in 2020, there were a couple of instances where his left hand was wrenched down due to unstable placement. He had problems against the Wolverines in 2021 as well. Overall, his anchor is inconsistent, and his grip strength can improve.
Rasheed Walker’s NFL Draft scouting report overview
There’s some upside with Walker, who remains a young tackle prospect. The Penn State OT has great size at 6’6″, 320 pounds. He flashes good open-field athleticism and power for his size, particularly on run blocking reps. And as a pass blocker, his sudden, violent hands can help him carry great momentum on his punches.
Unfortunately for Walker, the Penn State OT needed 2021 to be a year where he took a leap. That didn’t happen in the regular season. Walker had his bright moments, but especially against top competition, he was very streaky. Especially as a pass blocker, poor leverage, stiffness, and a lack of balance put Walker at a disadvantage.
Walker has shown he has the capacity to bend his knees more, and if he can make his footwork more efficient, he may be able to mitigate the stiffness concerns. But 2021 was at best a lateral season for Walker, and his stock may have regressed a bit. He still has enough scheme-independent upside to have fans on Day 2, but he’s likely a mid-round pick for most.
Rasheed Walker’s Player Profile
Penn State has long owned a reputation for having one of the better training programs in the nation. As a result, the Nittany Lions regularly produce some of the highest-quality athletes on the NFL Draft stage. While James Franklin’s program no doubt deserves credit, player development is a two-part process. Yes, you need to train athletes. But you also need to find athletes to train.
Walker met the criteria for Penn State back in 2018. At that point in time, he was a four-star recruit and ranked as the 160th-best recruit in the nation on ESPN’s board.
The 6’6″, 295-pound tackle from Waldorf, Maryland, had offers from schools like Ohio State, Florida, Georgia, and LSU. Yet, at the end of the process, the three-time high school captain chose to embark on a four-hour trip to State College, Pennsylvania, and sign with the up-and-coming Big Ten squad.
Walker’s career at Penn State and NFL Draft ascension
Walker saw playing time as a true freshman, but it wasn’t enough for him to shed his redshirt designation. After playing in just four games in a reserve role in 2018, Walker returned as a redshirt freshman for the 2019 season.
Despite being just a redshirt freshman, Walker was thrust into an important role in just his second year. After losing left tackle Ryan Bates, the Nittany Lions needed a new blindside blocker, and they called on Walker to be the successor. Walker took his new responsibilities in stride, quickly becoming one of the better tackles in the conference.
The Penn State OT started all 13 games at left tackle in 2019 and carried that role into 2020, starting all nine games in his redshirt sophomore season. He earned All-Big Ten recognition for his play in 2020’s COVID-impacted season, garnering third-team honors from the media and an honorable mention from the coaches.
In 2021, Walker maintained his starting spot at left tackle, but exited the year with similar results. He started 10 games — missing contests against Rutgers and Michigan State — and took home honorable mention honors for a second consecutive season.
Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report on Rasheed Walker
Positives: Super-athletic, pass-blocking left tackle with tremendous upside. Sets with a wide base, works to bend his knees, and stays square. Fires off the snap into blocks, effectively uses his hands, and easily moves about the field. Keeps his feet moving, fluidly slides off the edge, and shows terrific lateral blocking range.
Flexible, agile, and easily adjusts to oncoming defenders. Jolts opponents with explosive hand punch and knocks them from their angles of attack. Explodes out to the second level and takes linebackers from the action. Quickly and easily moves across the line of scrimmage when blocking in motion.
Negatives: Must improve the strength of his base and gets marginal movement run blocking. Has mental lapses on the field.
Analysis: Walker is a prospect I projected as an early selection off his freshman tape. He possesses terrific size and athleticism, and he’s a fluid pass-protecting left tackle with tremendous upside. He needs to focus on the details of his position, keep his concentration on the field and improve his playing strength to meet the expectations I have of him. If he does, Walker has All-Pro potential at the next level.