Cornerbacks Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant stole the show early for the 2022 Seattle Seahawks rookie draft class. Now, it’s running back Kenneth Walker’s turn.
Walker has been terrific the last two weeks since he took over for veteran back Rashad Penny, who suffered a season-ending injury against the New Orleans Saints in Week 5.
During Week 7, Walker averaged 7.3 yards per carry on his way to a season-high 167 rushing yards. He’s averaged more than 6.0 yards per rush in three of the last five games, and over the last two weeks, Walker has 264 rushing yards.
But most don’t consider this a simple hot streak for the rookie. Walker is a first-year player that’s a rising star in the NFL.
One scout says he might even become as good as one of the best running backs the NFL has seen over the last decade — Le’Veon Bell.
“I’m not gonna say he’s better than Bell because there was a five-year stretch when Le’Veon was the best in the league,” an NFL scout told The Score’s Jordan Schultz. “But I’m not gonna say he won’t get there, either.”
Walker is off to a better start than Bell had in his rookie season of 2013. Bell rushed for 339 yards and 4 touchdowns while averaging 3.3 yards per carry during his first six NFL games. He also contributed 20 receptions for 186 yards in that stretch.
The Seahawks rookie back only has 8 catches for 27 yards, but he has 410 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns while averaging 6.1 yards per carry in his first six games.
Walker ‘Faster’ & ‘More Explosive’ than Bell?
While the NFL scout that Schultz spoke to didn’t want to put Walker ahead of Bell, he did claim the Seahawks rookie has more raw skills than even what Bell possessed early in his career.
“[Walker’s] faster than Le’Veon, more explosive. Le’Veon was a very talented runner who really saw the field,” the scout said. “His reads were what separated him. That takes time, but in terms of raw tools, Walker’s right there with him.
“It’s kind of hard to describe how good he’s been because I didn’t realize he was already at this level.”
Even in his prime, Bell was never great at breaking off long runs. His longest run from 2015-17 was 44 yards (he had an 81-yard rush in 2014). Walker has already scampered for 74-yard and 69-yard rushing touchdowns in his first two months of NFL action.
Walker still has to refine those aspects of his game.
Teams Feeling Draft Remorse With Walker?
Running backs have occasionally been drafted in the first round in recent years, but the modern philosophy around the league is that running back is not a position worth grabbing early in the draft.
Going at No. 41 overall, Walker was a second-round choice. But with how well he’s playing, it sounds like there’s some regret around the league that Walker wasn’t more seriously considered as a late first-round selection.
“I can’t believe we didn’t draft that dude,” a NFL assistant general manager said to Schultz. “We thought about him in the first round, and then decided to take him with our next pick. (Seahawks GM John Schneider) got one of the best players in the draft.”
“Wish we had him,” a Pro Bowl defensive player told Schultz. “He’s so freaking fast.”
Interestingly, during the pre-draft process, NFL analyst Lance Zierlein compared Walker to another former Steelers running back — Willie Parker. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, they experienced Parker’s speed first-hand in the Super Bowl following the 2005 season.