With the No. 41 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected running back Kenneth Walker III out of Michigan State. The Doak Walker Award winner and Walter Camp national player of the year comes to Seattle in the midst of a period of transition for the franchise and enters a backfield with a group of worn-down veterans that could use a shot of young energy in the room.
While it could be debated that the second of the two second-round picks made by general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll would’ve been better used on a cover corner or an additional offensive lineman, the Seahawks arguably used the pick on a player who by many accounts was the top at his position in the draft class. With 4.38 speed, the ability to bludgeon would-be tacklers, and the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, the Seahawks may just have found their long-awaited replacement for the Emerald City’s beloved Beastmode, Marshawn Lynch.
Here are three early predictions that could catapult Kenneth Walker III into the same conversation as the Skittles-loving Seahawks legend.
3 Early Predictions for Kenneth Walker in his Rookie Season with the Seahawks
3. Kenneth Walker III won’t be pressured to start early on, but fans will want him to
Every rookie wants to be a starter, but not every rookie has to be a starter. This will be the case for Kenneth Walker III when he walks into the Seahawks camp this summer. The running back room is deep with veterans Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny currently taking up the top two spots, with youngsters DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer in a more deep depth chart and special teams role with the team.
While Walker won’t be pressured to start right out of the gate in 2022, it won’t keep Seahawks fans, also known as the “12s”, from wanting him to. Since Marshawn Lynch’s departure in 2016, the Seahawks have yet to sustain a reliable every-down running back. So long as Walker’s health keeps up and he plays in all 17 games in 2022, he would be the first starting-caliber running back to log a full season since 2014 when Lynch played in 16 games.
2. Thomas Rawls’ rookie single-game rushing yards record will be broken
Back in 2015, then-Seahawks rookie running back Thomas Rawls set the franchise rookie single-game rushing record with 209 rushing yards against the San Francisco 49ers. Not too dissimilar from how things could possibly go this season, Rawls started the game in place of an injured Marshawn Lynch.
With the injuries that have plagued the Seahawks backfield almost annually since that season, it is not too farfetched that Kenneth Walker III could see a few starts for Seattle. Those starts could come during one of the 10 games Seattle has in 2022 against defenses that ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in 2021 in terms of rush defense. Five of those games against teams in the bottom ten and three of those same five games will be against teams from the bottom five. Needless to say, the chances of a breakout game for Walker seem to be aplenty.
1. Walker won’t start the season as RB1, but he will end it as RB1
The Seahawks still have Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny on the roster, but the biggest issue with the duo over the last few seasons has been their aforementioned ability to stay healthy. Neither Carson nor Penny have logged a full season since joining the Seahawks in 2017 and 2018 respectively, and have only combined for 35 rushing touchdowns in that stretch. For reference, Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, who was coincidentally drafted with the No. 41 overall pick like Walker, has 39 rushing touchdowns over that stretch. Running back production from the early second round is not unheard of.
While Walker will have to come into camp and earn his spot on the depth chart, it is not likely he will beat out either of the veterans, especially with Penny’s strong close to 2021. That said, with the chances being what they are for Carson and Penny to miss games early, Walker will get his opportunity to showcase his ability and likely cement himself as the Seahawks running back of the future if given the chance.