Career Recap: Coming out of high school, Walker was rated as a four-star recruit after being a standout on both the defensive and offensive lines. He then played in four games as a true freshmam before taking a redshirt for the year. Walker then became the Nittany Lions starting left tackle in 2019 as a redshirt freshman. The shortened 2020 season saw Penn State play only nine games, but Walker excelled and continued his streak of starts.
2021 Season Outlook: The first half of the season looks relatively easy for Walker. Auburn has some young defensive line talent who could test him in Week 3, but aside from the Tigers, he has an easy start to the year. Things should get harder in the back half of the season. Walker will see a quality set of defensive ends against Ohio State in late October. A few weeks later, Walker could see the toughest test of the year with Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. Assuming neither gets injured and they match up against each other, the game against Hutchinson will be an important tape for Walker.
Skill-Set Summary: Walker immediately passes the eyeball test. The mammoth 6-foot-6, 310-pounder has an excellent combination of height, length and weight. He is also a good athlete for a big edge blocker, possessing quality quickness. While Walker needs some development, the skill set is there for him to be a good pro.
Walker's run blocking is currently ahead of his pass protection. He has the strength and size to overwhelm defenders in ground game. There are plays on which he fires into the chest of defensive linemen and knocks them backward to blast open holes. Walker's power helps him ride defenders back and knock them out of their gaps. With his smooth movement in space and quickness to the second level, Walker is not just a plodder as a run blocker. He will also get physical, and he will finish off defenders with violence on occasion. Walker displays a good playing demeanor and is not a big softy or finesse offensive lineman.
As a pass blocker, Walker is quick out of his stance and achieves depth swiftly. His mass and length mean defensive linemen need more steps to get around Walker, buying his quarterback more time to get the ball out. Walker's size and mass help him succeed against bull rushes, but he also helps himself by sinking his hips to emulate a stonewall. Walker flashes the quickness and athleticism to cut off the edge from speed rushers, but he has to become more consistent and needs to improve his technique.
Walker can be prone to bend at the waist, and that leads to issues with sustaining his blocks. He needs to refine his technique toward bending at the knee, as the waist levering leads to him lunging after defenders. Hand placement is another area of improvement for Walker, who can get too wide on defenders, which allows them to break free from his blocks more easily. Along with avoiding bending at the waist, Walker has to improve his feet and get more consistent at playing the typewriter with his feet to cut off the edge. If Walker can get his feet to move more and grow more nimble, he will become a much more effective pass blocker. Walker often starts out a play well, but he doesn't sustain his block because of his technique issues, and that leads to him giving up sacks, pressures and hits - see the Ohio State game clip below.
Provided Walker continues to develop his technique, that plus his skill set would give him the potential to be a starting offensive tackle in the NFL.
2022 NFL Draft Expectations: Entering the 2021 season, Walker could be an early-round prospect. His skill set could see him to skyrocket.