Around the Big Ten: What does one former NFL GM think of Kenneth Walker III’s NFL Draft stock?

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Kenneth Walker III has emerged as one of the top running backs in college football this year, generating considerable buzz that includes recently being named a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award as well as some legitimate NFL draft buzz.

So far this season, Walker has 1,330 rushing yards with 15 touchdowns on 197 carries. Two weeks ago, he had 197 rushing yards and five touchdowns in a win over Michigan. This past weekend, Walker was solid with 122 rushing yards and a touchdown as Purdue pulled off an upset at home over Michigan State.

Former NFL general manager Randy Mueller evaluated Walker and likes his ability to get into the second level and make plays.

“Smallish back who plays with burst and speed. Can be explosive if he finds space in second-level runs. Hops into next lane if his is plugged. Has enough strength in lower body to break arm tackles but he’s not going to run over anyone at NFL level,” Mueller said.

“Runs with adequate vision and feel between the tackles but best in space. He can however make cuts at high speed and likes to bounce outside whenever he can. He has sudden lateral quickness and home-run speed.”

(Maryland 3-star defensive end Dashawn Womack talks Rutgers interest and PSU)

His relative lack of production as a receiver – just 10 catches for 56 yards and a touchdown this season – is certainly something NFL teams will have to vet before the draft.

“Hands are unknown at this time,” Mueller said. “You’d have to work this kid out in order to see his skills as a receiver.”

Mueller is a former vice president of football operations for five years with the Seattle Seahawks who then had successful stints with the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins as their general manager.

He is now a prominent football consultant involved in projects with several professional teams.

As for his draft stock, Mueller thinks Walker could find himself in a rather solid spot next spring. The junior running back has certainly elevated his draft stock since transferring from Wake Forest this offseason.

“Has playmaking ability but not sure about an every down back,” Mueller said. “Jahvid Best (former California running back, former Detroit Lions running back) is who he compares to. Second round consideration.”