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Preseason Scouting Notes: Walker Little, OT, Stanford

Senior| 6’7” 319 lbs | Houston, TX | April 1, 1999

 

An instinctual lineman with prototypical size and length who needs to completely rebuild his pass blocking technique in order to stay at tackle

 

Overview:

Walker Little entered his junior season for the Cardinal with Top 10 hype, but was lost for the season after playing just one game with a dislocated knee. Little has received plenty of fanfare since becoming Stanford’s starting blindside protector of Stanford’s pro-style power attack as a true freshman. He was initially recruited as the No. 1 OL prospect in the nation and had lofty expectations placed on him immediately, but he’ll have to show considerable improvement coming off injury to match the hype. He’s got big long arms, wide hips and a square frame and heavily favors jump-sets in pass protection.

Strengths:

– Shows good instincts while processing stunts and blitzes quickly
– Has the ideal length and frame for the position
– Plays with good knee bend, adequate ankle flexion and proper posture
– Good at enveloping smaller defenders after chipping to the second level
– Shows good play speed and functional athleticism when pulling
– Always looking for work when left unoccupied
– Crafty positional run blocker. Gets his body between the defender and gap to wall off running lanes

Areas to improve:

– Susceptible to inside counters. Overextends with his upper body and gives up a weak inside shoulder
– Constantly gets beaten outside by speedy edge rushers. Limited experience and success implementing true vertical pass sets
– Shows a lack of anchor strength against bull rusher
– Has a tendency to sit down on his pass sets at the POA, resulting in a loss of power and mobility
– Messy and often late hand placement coupled with average grip strength
– Has issues with balance in the run and pass game. Ends up on the ground all too often
– Not a particularly nasty player. Finish leaves a little to be desired

Injury concerns:

– Suffered a season-ending knee dislocation in the first game of his junior season

Projection:

While Little has been touted as the next great NFL tackle by pundits, the tape tells a different story. Little doesn’t appear to have the lateral agility to keep up with speedy 9-techniques, and he tends to overcompensate for his lack of lateral quickness by getting his upper body involved, which often leaves him off-balance and susceptible to inside counters. If Little can’t completely overhaul his pass protection issues, his future might be best suited at offensive guard in a power scheme, where his instincts, pulling acumen and effectiveness at the second level could pay dividends. It’s tough to pinpoint Little’s draft stock this early in the process because of his recent injury and the uncertainty of how he’ll look upon return. But if his sophomore tape is a serious indicator, Little is more likely to be a mid-Day 3 selection than a Day 1 player at this point.

What to watch in 2020:

How will Little look in his return from injury? He appeared noticeably stronger in his lone 2019 showing against Northwestern. But can he sustain that and improve his anchor against bull rushes over the course of the season? If Little does convert to OG at the NFL level, his anchor strength will be of utmost importance. Perhaps most importantly, can Little prove that he’s the premier pass protector that he was prematurely ordained as? He’s had plenty of time to study the tape and work on his mental side of the game, but can his physical performance improve in lockstep?