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Raiders Draft: Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State scouting report

An OT with impressive upper body strength as a mid-round prospect

Penn State v Maryland
Rasheed Walker
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders are undoubtedly in the offensive tackle market in this year’s NFL Draft, however, solving that problem will be difficult without a pick until the third round. Penn State’s Rasheed Walker could be a mid-round option for the Raiders as he has impressive upper body strength as a pass and run blocker.

OT | Penn State | 6’5 5/8” and 313 lbs | Waldorf, MD | February 13th, 2000 (21.2)

Overview:

Rasheed Walker came to Penn State as a four-star recruit and the No. 6 tackle in the country for the 2018 class, per 247 Sports. He redshirted his first year on campus before locking down the starting spot at left tackle for the next three seasons, playing in the Nittany Lion’s system that used a mix of zone and gap runs with a lot of slide protection. The Waldorf, Maryland native allowed 59 pressures, 11 sacks and recorded PFF run-blocking grades of 68.4, 71.9 and 59.4 in State College.

Strengths:

  • On run and pass plays, he has a good get-off and initial quickness
  • When using jump or 45-degree sets in pass protection he can cover ground laterally to get on the rusher quickly
  • He has solid speed working backward on his pass sets to help stay in front of edges
  • Very strong hands to control pass rushers and stay engaged with his punch when he does keep his hands inside
  • Mixes up the timing of his punches and will throw fake punches to keep pass rushers off-balance
  • He looks for work if he’s uncovered in pass protection and is swift to recognize when the defender lined up in front of him isn’t coming
  • Extremely quick at recognizing stunts and effectively pick up and pass off loopers and penetrators
  • Blocks with a wide base that helps him anchor against outside linebacker body types
  • When base blocking on zone runs, he uses a read step and has the upper body strength to catch and ride the edge’s momentum out of the way
  • Uses a nice wide base and keeps his feet moving through contact on base blocks to help generate some push
  • If the guard can hold the defensive linemen up for a second on scoop blocks, he has the strength and power to wash the lineman down multiple gaps
  • On inside zones when linebackers don’t move laterally as much, he can push them around and create rushing lanes on the second level
  • His grip strength helps him stay engaged when run blocking
  • Has some nastiness to him when finishing blocks

Areas of Improvement:

  • He needs to work for more depth in his vertical sets which can cause him to lose around the edge since he doesn’t have enough foot speed to recover. He’s very reliant on opening the gate and riding pass rusher’s by the quarterback which will be an issue against edges with good bend at the next level.
  • When 45-degree setting versus wide rushers, he has a tendacncy to overset and give the rusher a two-way go
  • In pass protection, he often lands his punch wide and outside of the rushers’ frame, exposing his chest, and he stops his feet when punching which can lead to him struggling to win on against outside moves
  • Rolls his shoulders when he punches as well
  • Stronger and more physical rushers that can fight back against his strength will be able to bull rush him because of his wide hands, high pad level and lack of knee bend to anchor
  • He has a soft inside shoulder and struggles to recover against inside counter moves because he pass blocks with a narrow base, likes to lean on the rusher and has sub-par reactive athelticism, making it more difficult to change direction and stay on balance
  • The same issue he has with wide hands in pass protection shows up when he’s run blocking, and he’s a little late with his hands on rushing plays which exposes his chest
  • He’s a waist bender, not a knee bender which combined with his late hands limits the amount of push he can get on base bocks, especially against defensive linemen with good leverage
  • When zone run blocking, he’s a little stiff in the hips to flip his hips and create rushing lanes
  • On down blocks, scoops and backside cut offs, he takes too steep of an initial angle, goes to where defenders are instead of where they will be and ends up with his head on the wrong side, giving up the inside.
  • When working to the second level, he has the same issue with anticipating linebackers’ movement when they move laterally
  • Blitzing linebackers beat him to the inside on run plays consistently
  • Pretty slow getting out to the perimeter on screens and he lacks the agility to stay in front of shifty linebackers or defensive backs
  • Likes to lean on defenders and lacks the core strength to stay engaged when they work laterally to get off his block
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 13 Michigan at Penn State
Rasheed Walker
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Injuries:

  • None

Projection:

NFL Mock Draft Database consensus big board rank: 93rd overall, 3rd round

Ever since the summer, Walker’s stock has consistently floated around the 100 mark. Personally, I can get on board with that though I’d lean toward a fourth-round grade and an overall ranking closer to the 110s. I worry about how he’ll be able to hold up against speedy and bendy NFL edge rushers, and he seems more reliant on strength than technique as a run blocker for my liking.

The former Nittany Lion would be best in an offense that uses a lot of play action and quick passes so that he can use jump and 45-degree sets more often. However, he’s a little hard to place as a run blocker. Walker’s strength suggests he’d be better in a gap scheme, but his technique limits the amount of push he can get and his propensity to get beat inside would be a major issue. In a zone-heavy attack, his stiff hips and ability to create rushing lanes will be a problem, but he is good at using a read step and riding defensive linemen’s momentum.

Given all that, he probably has the most potential in a gap scheme, but Walker does have flaws that could scare either type of team away.

What do we need to know?

Can he hold up on the edge using vertical sets in pass protection and sure up his use of hands? Walker will eventually need to improve his footwork on vertical sets if he’s going to play tackle in the NFL, and he needs to bring his hands inside – as a pass and run blocker – more consistently since upper body strength is his best asset. Otherwise, Walker’s outstanding trait will mainly go to waste at the next level.

Fit with the Raiders:

If I’m Dave Zielger, Walker is on my list of options with one of Las Vegas’ first two picks of the draft but rather low on it. So it will depend on who’s still available and I get the feeling there will be better options on the board with the 86th overall pick, even if said player doesn’t play tackle. In other words, expect Walker to be more of a fourth round target than third, which would be a solid value pickup for the Raiders.

Schematically, the big man could fit what new head coach Josh McDaniels likes to do, use a lot of gap runs and get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands. My only concern is that Walker would add to the team’s list of right tackles who are good run blockers but struggle to hold up in pass protection. That’s also part of the reason why I wouldn’t be so quick to jump on him in the third round and it might make more sense to go in a different direction.

Film Clips: