Kenneth Walker

Draft Rumors: Ojabo, Jaguars, Jets, Giants

Michigan still might see two of its edge rushers become first-round picks this month. Despite David Ojabo‘s Achilles tear last month, the ex-Wolverine’s talent could well keep him on track to hear his name called on the draft’s first night. Ojabo remains firmly on the Round 1 radar, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. Ojabo is expected to make a full recovery, and a team that uses a first-round pick on him would be positioned to have him contracted for five seasons — via the fifth-year option. Operating opposite Aidan Hutchinson, Ojabo recorded 11 sacks in a breakout 2021. There is recent precedent for pre-draft injuries not keeping talented pass rushers out of the first round (Jeffery Simmons) and for Achilles rehabs going well enough players become factors months after the tears (Terrell Suggs, Michael Crabtree, Cam Akers).

Here is the latest from the draft world:

  • Hutchinson and NC State tackle Ikem Ekwonu met with the Jaguars this week, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes both will head to New York for Giants and Jets visits (Twitter link). Both players are candidates to go first overall, with Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker joining them. The Jets and Giants hold four of the next nine picks — the Jets having Nos. 4 and 10 and the Giants at 5 and 7 — and will be set to add top talent. The Giants have a few needs, but it will be hard to see them exiting Round 1 without a right tackle prospect. They have done extensive homework on Mississippi State’s Charles Cross and would likely pounce if Ekwonu, who is rated ahead of Cross almost universally, fell to 5.
  • After a strong Combine showing, Walker is being projected as a top-five pick. He will visit with each of the teams holding those selections, with Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com noting the Jags, Lions, Texans, Jets and Giants are meeting with the pass rusher. Despite weighing 272 pounds and frequently playing inside with the national championship-winning team, Walker clocked a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the Combine. Viewed as a D-lineman with fewer red flags than Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux, it is unlikely Walker will wait long to hear his name called.
  • Teams will do their due diligence on Thibodeaux, who is set to meet with the non-Jaguars contingent of the top five (Lions, Texans, Jets, Giants). The Eagles (Nos. 15 and 18) and Falcons (No. 9) are also planning “30” visits with Thibodeaux, Wilson notes. Questions about Thibodeaux’s motor and attitude have injected uncertainty into the defensive end’s status. A fall to Philly at 15 might not shock at this point.
  • One season remains on Saquon Barkley‘s contract, and the Giants‘ new regime has fielded trade calls on the previous staff’s top investment. The team is now using a few of its allotted 30 visits on backs. Breece Hall (Iowa State), Brian Robinson (Alabama) and James Cook (Georgia) visited the Giants on Tuesday, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. Hall could be available when the Giants’ second-round pick (No. 36) comes. However, the ex-Cyclones standout grades as a first-round talent on Daniel Jeremiah’s NFL.com big board. Cook and Robinson are viewed as later-round prospects.
  • The Commanders are also taking a look at a top back, being set to meet with Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker on Friday, Rapoport adds (on Twitter). Scouts Inc. grades Walker just ahead of Hall as this class’ top back, but views him as a second-round talent. The Wake Forest transfer blew up for 1,636 rushing yards in his only Michigan State slate. Washington also met with Hall this week, John Keim of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Andrew Booth may miss his NFL team’s offseason workouts due to hernia surgery, but that should not deter teams from considering the Clemson cornerback in Round 1. Booth has met with the Bills (No. 25) and Eagles, with Rapoport adding Patriots (No. 21) and Saints (Nos. 16 and 19) meetings are also on Booth’s docket.

Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III Enters NFL Draft

Kenneth Walker III is going pro. On Thursday, the Michigan State running back announced that he will forgo his remaining eligibility, skip the Peach Bowl, and enter the 2022 NFL Draft.

It has been a true honor to represent Michigan State University and wear the Green and White,” Walker said in a statement. “I am beyond grateful to Coach Tucker and the entire staff for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to shine under their leadership. As the regular season has come to a close, I would like to announce that I have decided to forgo playing in the Peach Bowl to begin preparation for the NFL Draft.”

I would like to thank God, my family, my teammates, fans and all my coaches over the years for helping me become the player and man I am today. I will forever be a Spartan Dawg.”

Walker, the nation’s second leading rusher, has amassed 1,636 yards and 18 touchdowns this year off of 263 carries. His performance earned him sixth-place in Heisman voting and the Doak Walker Award, given to the country’s best collegiate RB. Walker was also crowned a unanimous All-American. Needless to say, he won’t last long come April. Dane Brugler of The Athletic has the 5’10”, 212-pound Spartan ranked as the No. 1 RB in the ’22 class, ahead of Texas A&M’s Isaiah Spiller and Iowa State’s Breece Hall.

NFL Workout Updates: 9/15/17

The latest workouts from around the NFL (all links go to Twitter):

Cleveland Browns

  • DEs Ian Seau, Jhaustin Thomas; CBs De’Chavon Hayes, Marcus Sayles, JaCorey Shepherd; LB Garrett Sickels (links via Adam Caplan of ESPN)

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • WRs Montay Crockett, Tim Patrick; Ps Matt Darr, Jordan Gay, Richie Leone, Austin Rehkow; QB Jerod Evans, Joel Stave; PKs Andrew Franks, Josh Lambo, Mike Meyer; LS Colin Holba (link via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union)

Los Angeles Rams

  • WRs Jaydon Mickens, Michael Rector, Kenneth Walker (links via Caplan)

Jaguars Claim CB Charles James II

The Jaguars have claimed fourth-year cornerback Charles James II off waivers from the Bills. To make room on the roster, they waived rookie wide receiver Kenneth Walker. Charles James (vertical)

While with the Texans, James enjoyed some celebrity as the standout star of 2015’s “Hard Knocks.” His likability alone couldn’t keep him in Houston, however. The Texans cut him at the end of 2016, leading him to the rival Colts. When James was let go by Indy in order to help make room for undrafted free agents in May, he was claimed off waivers by the Bills. His stay in Buffalo now ends after four months, but he has landed on his feet – and in better weather.

James, a 5’9″ corner, took the field in 12 games for the Giants’ as a rookie in 2013. Then, in 2015 and 2016, he saw action in 21 games with the Texans.

Jaguars Sign 16 UDFAs, Cut 11 Players

The Jaguars announced that they have signed 16 undrafted free agents. In order to make room, they have released eleven players from the roster. Here’s the full rundown:

Signed:

Released:

Dimick led the Pac-12 in sacks last season with 13.5 and earned a first-team All-Conference selection. Prior to the draft, one NFC West Coast scout told Lance Zierlein of NFL.com that Dimick’s work ethic is admirable, but his lack of natural talent may inhibit him at the next level.

He’s more try-hard than talented. His effort is great. I love how hard he plays, but when you are as sawed-off as he is on the edge and you can’t unlock your hips, I don’t know how he is going to see the field,” the scout said.

Horton got $25K guaranteed from the Jaguars between his $5K bonus and $20K guaranteed base, Tom Pelissero of USA Today tweets.

The Jags’ roster is now at the 90-man max.