Next up in the Unpacking a Future Packers countdown is Walker Little. The Stanford offensive tackle checks in at number 24 in the countdown.
The 2021 NFL Draft’s most talented position, particularly at the top might be offensive tackle. Penei Sewell, Rashawn Slater, and Christian Darrisaw are regarded as the top three tackles in a loaded class. After those three the rankings get murky.
A player that is somewhat flying under the radar is Stanford’s Walker Little. Little hasn’t played in a game since August of 2019 after suffering a season-ending leg injury and then opted out of the shortened 2020 Pac-12 season.
“I think I’m the best tackle in this class,” Little said. “I think i can help any team take that next step to be a championship team. I can help protect the quarterback and open holes in the run game…I see myself as the best tackle.”
It’s hard to project where Little will land in the NFL. In a loaded class he could slip to the late second round or early third round due to the fact that he hasn’t played in a game since 2019.
“I’ve been training a lot,” Little said. “Obviously trying to get stronger and quicker. That’s been a big part of what I’ve been doing…Working on hands. Always having a good base. Just working on adjusting against specific pass rushers.”
Little is a day two pick all day long. To give people a perspective, Little is ranked as Dane Brugler’s 10th rated offensive tackle. That puts up squarely in day two territory.
“A three-year starter at Stanford, Little manned the left tackle position in head coach David Shaw’s pro-style scheme. He became the first true freshman to start at left tackle for the Cardinal since 2000 and was an NFL prospect on the rise as a sophomore in 2018, but he missed almost all of the 2019 season with a knee injury and opted out of 2020, which left several unanswered questions for NFL teams.
Although his pass-set depth is inconsistent, Little has good-enough movement skills to mirror and keep rushers from the pocket. However, he struggles to sustain (even when he gains the upper hand early) and long rushers too easily jab and separate, creating inside/outside rush lanes. Overall, Little’s balanced athleticism and smarts are attractive foundation traits, but he lost two years of development, and his core strength and timing issues need to be addressed before he is ready for regular NFL snaps.”
Little looks like he was sent straight from central casting. The former five-star recruit checks in at 6-7 and 313 pounds.
Little is Steady Eddie out on the football field. He never seems rushed. Everything he does looks calm, cool, and collected.
“Size,” Little said when he was asked what separates him from the rest of the offensive tackles in the class. “I think I’m one of the bigger offensive tackles in this draft.
Pairing that with some good athleticism and some really good feet is a combination that I don’t know if any other offensive lineman has in this draft. I’ve shown an ability to have good hands, both in the run game and the pass game.”
Walker has excellent movement skills. He’s good at getting out on screens and climbing to the second level. At Stanford’s pro day, Little recorded a 4.58 short shuttle and a 7.43 three-cone.
Little has raw power and good length. At Stanford’s pro day Little put up 24 reps on the bench. He has strong hands and good length. Once he gets his mitts on you it’s over.
Fit with the Packers
The Green Bay Packers had one of the best offensive lines in the NFL last season. That group took a hit when starting center Corey Linsley signed with the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency.
Following Linsley’s departure, there could be some shuffling to that group. Where will the versatile Elgton Jenkins start the season? Will the former Mississippi State product start the year at left guard or center? It’s even possible he starts the season at left tackle if David Bakhtiari isn’t ready to go.
Will Billy Turner play guard or tackle to start the year? Does Jun Runyan start at right guard? Where will Lucas Patrick line up? Long story short, there are a lot of moving pieces with Green Bay’s offensive line.
It’s unclear what the starting five will look like for the Packers when the 2021 season rolls around. Add in the fact that the Packers’ depth at offensive tackle is lacking, it would not be shocking to see Green Bay take an offensive lineman in the first three rounds.
Enter Walker Little. Little played left tackle at Stanford. Little was asked about possibly switching to right tackle during Stanford’s pro day.
“It’s no problem at all,” Little said. “It’s something that I’ve already thought about. I’ve been training at both left and right tackle. I’ve been playing a little guard the last few months…I can be a versatile player. I’m not set at one position. I’m an offensive lineman. I’m going to step in wherever I’m needed. I think I’m the best tackle in this draft…I’ll do whatever a team needs me to do. I’m just there to compete and help a team win a championship.”
Little is good in pass protection and is a U-Haul truck in the run game. With his length and athleticism, Little could be a plug-and-play starter at right tackle as a rookie. Worst case scenario he is a swing tackle as a rookie.
“They’re going to see somebody that’s an extremely hard worker,” Little said. “I’m an accountable person. I’m going to show up on time and be the first one in and the last one out. I’m a student of the game…Somebody that can be a leader in the locker room. I can be a great player for many years. I’m going to help the organization win championships.”