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Rasheed Walker Offers Elite Size & Power To Potential NFL Suitors

When Penn State football earned the commitment of Rasheed Walker in 2018, the Nittany Lions would ultimately go on to sign their highest-rated offensive tackle prospect since 2000. From there, the stout Maryland product began his journey toward becoming one of the most battle-tested linemen in the Big Ten throughout his four-year stretch in Happy Valley.

Prior to coming to Penn State, Walker served as a three-time captain for North Point High School in Waldorf, Maryland. During his senior campaign, the rugged tackle led his squad to a 12-1 record, including a berth in the state semifinals, which capped off the Eagles’ best finish in school history.

In the process, Walker garnered national attention for his massive 6’6″, 290-pound frame prior to entering the collegiate ranks. His output at left tackle helped him warrant a No. 65 overall ranking as a recruit, which also slotted him as the sixth-best prospect at his position. While Walker received interest from top-tier programs such as Georgia, LSU, and Michigan, the four-star chose James Franklin’s squad over other offers from Ohio State and Maryland on signing day.

During Walker’s first season on campus, the lineman appeared in just four matchups to preserve his redshirt eligibility status. Throughout the 2018 season, Walker was able to learn from established left tackle Will Fries, who started 42 games over his tenure for the blue and white, with the majority of his action spent protecting the blindside of Trace McSorley.

Entering his sophomore campaign, Walker transformed his frame under the guidance of former strength and conditioning coach Dwight Galt, who pushed the Maryland native to new heights in the weight room. In preparation to emerge as a starting pillar on the offensive front for first-year starter Sean Clifford, Walker bulked up from 304 pounds into a sturdy, 325-pound specimen.

Walker showed no signs of unpreparedness following Fries’ departure, which allowed him to start in all 13 matchups throughout the Nittany Lions’ impressive 2019 run. His protection guided Penn State’s offense to nearly 36 points per game, 2,802 total rushing yards, and 6.1 yards per play, with all marks serving as the highest in each offensive category since 2017.

The Nittany Lions were able to cap off Walker’s redshirt freshman year debut with a 53-39 victory over Memphis in the Cotton Bowl, giving the program its second New Year’s Six bowl win in three seasons. Behind Walker’s prowess, Journey Brown and the Penn State running back room torched the Tigers’ defense for 396 rushing yards, equating to the most production on the ground in any bowl game throughout the Nittany Lions’ storied postseason history.

Following a solid, injury-free year in just his second stint with the Nittany Lions, Walker entered 2020 set to build on a promising stretch defined by allowing just five sacks in 13 games to begin his career. Despite enduring a prolonged offseason due to a COVID-19-induced delay, Walker shattered all preseason expectations with yet another display of consistency at the offensive line’s most crucial spot.

Although Walker anchored a struggling offensive unit under the direction of first-year coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca, the second-year centerpiece once again remained healthy enough to start all nine games throughout the shortened all-conference season. The Nittany Lions finished the year with an underwhelming 4-5 record largely due to inconsistent quarterback play and a reeling defense, but Walker and the offensive line helped guide Franklin’s unit to nearly 430 yards per matchup, ranking second across the Big Ten.

Furthermore, the left tackle nabbed third-team All-Big Ten honors for allowing just three sacks at his disposal in all nine semblances of action. After his third go-around in Happy Valley, many believed Walker would hang up the black shoes and basic blues in favor of an NFL uniform. However, when the 22-game starter announced he would be returning to Penn State for a fourth year with the team, several NFL analysts predicted the projectable tackle to go off the board early in the 2022 draft cycle.

From FOX Sports to Bleacher Report, nearly every outlet graded Walker as a future first-round selection prior to engaging in an additional year with Franklin’s group. Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report penciled in Walker to the New York Giants with the potential No. 11 overall pick last May. However, in almost a year since the latest rounds of early predictions warranted attention, injuries shook up the outlook of Walker’s future stock.

Most recently, Walker wrapped up his fourth campaign in Happy Valley highlighted by making 10 starts, all at left tackle for the third-straight season. Due to a late-season lower-body injury, Walker was sidelined for the Nittany Lions’ final three matchups against Rutgers, Michigan State, and, finally, Arkansas in the Outback Bowl. On the New Year’s Day clash with the Razorbacks, Walker was seen in street clothes and crutches on the Penn State sideline.

Rasheed Walker at the 2021 Outback Bowl.

Despite beginning his final season in Happy Valley with nearly 25 games of experience under his belt, Walker’s production took a substantial hit in 2022. The protector allowed four sacks in 10 games, equating to his highest total in almost two years. Additionally, Walker recorded a run-blocking grade of 59.4 as a redshirt junior according to Pro Football Focus, which was by far his lowest merit in the category since earning meaningful minutes. For reference, projected top-10 selection Evan Neal from Alabama boasted a run blocking evaluation of 80.4, per the metric’s criterion.

Currently, Walker stands as a projected mid-round selection in the third-to-fifth-round range. The 32-time starter carries several positives to his resume, according to his official NFL prospect profile. The scouting report lists Walker as having an impressive ability to hold his ground in base protection as one of his standout qualities due to his size and power. Conversely, analyst Lance Zierlein cites his tape against Ohio State as a negative, with several members of the Buckeyes’ talented passing rushing core able to expose Walker’s outside shoulder snap-after-snap.

With less than three weeks to go until the NFL Draft, Walker is currently interviewing with a flurry of NFL teams across the league’s landscape. So far, the Washington Commanders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings, and Seattle Seakhawks have all visited with the Penn State staple, according to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline.

Aside from Walker, seven other Nittany Lions who attended the NFL Combine in March are also expected to hear their names called across the three-day event. The NFL Draft is set to begin at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 28, with the late rounds concluding on the afternoon of Saturday, April 30. Action from Las Vegas will air on ESPN, ABC, and NFL Network for the event’s duration.

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About the Author

Connor Krause

Connor Krause is a senior from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania double majoring in journalism and business. He is a lifelong Penn State football and basketball fan and enjoys rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams. In his free time, Connor can be found playing golf or pick-up basketball. You can follow his Twitter and Instagram @ckrause_31.

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