In eight games this season, the Miami Dolphins have four rushing touchdowns, last week, Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III scored five on his own.
Not all five touchdown games are built the same either. This one led Michigan State to continue their storybook season in an upset win over in-state rival and ninth-ranked Michigan.
Some have called it Walker’s Heisman moment, some see his draft stock rise up, but others know it’s a testimony to the continued dominance and the driving force behind Michigan State’s undefeated 2021 campaign. Walker has been on an absolute tear this season, no defense has had a response for his continued rise, and it’s all thanks to a simple difference in his career — opportunity.
The former three-star Arlington, Tennessee native started his college career at Wake Forest before transferring to play for Mel Tucker and Michigan State at the beginning of 2021. At 5-foot-10 210-pounds, Walker isn’t Derrick Henry, but, like Henry, no one has had an answer for the Spartans workhorse.
In eight games this season, Walker has atleast 19 touches in every game except in a blowout win against Youngstown State, where he did score a touchdown. Walker has failed to hit the century mark three times this season, two of which came in close wins against Indiana and Nebraska.
The biggest drawback in Walker’s steeler season is his lack of pass-catching, however, with the Dolphins he would slot in as a perfect fit alongside Myles Gaskin, who already has a 15(!) target game in 2021. A backfield of Gaskin and Walker would give the Dolphins a lighting-and-thunder combination that the team hasn’t had since the days of Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown.
Fixing the production in the run game will come with fixing their offensive line, but a lack of diversity in the playbook is harming the team as well. Among all 32 teams in the NFL, the Dolphins rank dead last in rush attempts through eight weeks, according to TeamRankings.
While Walker’s draft stock continues to rise, PFF has him as their top-back in the class of 2022, there are other backs that the team could target in the 2021 class. Among them are Texas A&M running back Isaiah Spiller and Iowa State running back Bryce Hall, both of whom are possibilities to be the top backs off the board in the class of 2022.
After passing on the likes of Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift, Najee Harris, and other top-flight backs early in the draft, general manager Chris Grier and head coach Brian Flores need to realize the importance of adding and giving quarterback Tua Tagovailoa an elite running back option.
Will Walker be an elite back in the NFL? Traits can say one thing, but work ethic speaks more, take a look at undrafted gem James Robinson of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who has a similar physical profile to Walker.
Miami needs to improve in the backfield, so why not take a shot on a player who continues to creep closer to obtaining the title, and hardware, of the top player in the entire college football landscape.