2020 NFL Draft Scouting Report


Walker Little

June 12, 2019 11:00 AM EST


Walker Little Scouting Report picture

School: Stanford

Height: 6'7"

Weight: 313

Eligibility: JR

Uniform: #72

Position: OT


Evaluated by: Austin Smith
smith.austinj14@gmail.com
June 20, 2019

Prospect Overview

Little was a very complex study based on the hype surrounding him, in comparison to his play on the field. Prior to scouting Little, my expectations were fueled by the accolades he'd been receiving. Little was a freshman All-American in 2017, as well as the freshman Offensive Co-Player of the Year in the Pac-12. He played in nine games that year, helping pave the way for Heisman runner-up Bryce Love to run for over 2,100 yards and 19 touchdowns. In 2018, Little followed up by being named First-Team All-Pac-12. Knowing that, I was expecting to be very impressed with what I saw from the first tape.


Walker Little Scouting Report image 1

On the contrary, Little was very inconsistent in the first three tapes, with occasional flashes of his potential. I honestly thought the buildup was a misrepresentation of what he'd been to this point in his career. Still, as the season went on those flashes started to become more frequent, and his play started to catch up to the hype. It's just a testament to the variety of paths top prospects take to reach their potential. If you look at Little on paper, he isn't much different than a guy like Jonah Williams who was drafted 11th overall last year. However, Little is at a much different stage in his development than Williams was after two years. Still, thanks to the positive momentum Little created in the second half of 2018, he could earn a similar grade for the 2020 draft. Stanford has a history of producing NFL-caliber linemen, and with another year of progress, Little should be the next one in line.

Positives

As I said, Little is a bit of a difficult evaluation because I see plenty of positives in his game, but I don't see them consistently. Some of these things got better late in the season, which has me encouraged that he might really turn the corner as a junior. Still, we need to see it because the difference could be him receiving a first-round grade as a junior or returning to school to continue to develop. One thing that is consistent is the fact that there is nothing small about this prospect other than his name. Little is a big guy, with long arms and a sturdy build. It's not an easy feat to get around him without running out of the play, and it's certainly not easy to go through him. Now that's not to say that neither of those things ever happen, but when they do, it's because of a breakdown with Little's technique as opposed to him just being bested by a better player. Cleaning up the technical side of his game with his footwork and pad level are both critical to his success, but when he plays with the proper balance that both enhance, he is a really good football player.

Walker Little Scouting Report image 2

Little also shows the traits of a very intelligent and perceptive player. He plays with his eyes exceptionally well and processes the game quickly. The first place this is evident is when Little is asked to work up to the second level or pull as a lead blocker. He identifies his target early in the process and aligns himself properly, which is essential. Asking a player Little's size to chase down a linebacker or defensive back isn't practical, so instead the lineman needs to ensure that the defender comes to them by putting themselves in the desired path, and attacking from there.

I'm impressed with how quickly Little determines the proper position and gets there. He also executes chip blocks very well, and once again, his eyes are the key. Although he is helping on lineman across from him, he keeps his eyes up to locate his secondary target. Once again, he positions himself properly and closes in on his target. It's also rare to see Little fooled on a stunt or twist. The only time I saw him bested on a stunt was against Jerry Tillery, where Tillery was on Little before he could get his eyes on him. That got him off balance, while Tillery disengaged quickly and lunged inside to capture the quarterback. Other than that, he is usually diagnosing stunts before the defenders are in a position to execute them.

Areas for Improvement

Consistency is going to be the common theme here, but first, let's start with his feet. Little's footwork improved as the season went on, but I don't believe he will ever have the feet to be a natural fit on the blind side. That's not to say Little can't play there, but the more athletic pass rushers in the Pac-12 gave him some issues, and I just don't see him being able to consistently shut down the quicker edge rushers at the next level without help. As I've mentioned, Little took major steps forward in the second half of the year, but he can still get more consistent in a number of areas. For starters, he is not always on balance. Sometimes his footwork was too clunky, while other times his pad level was too high, but the result was him playing with poor balance, and that's a recipe for disaster. His balance also occasionally affected his ability to time his punch. Little is usually good about timing his punch accordingly in order to get the most out of his long arms, but when you don't have a good base, it makes this a much more difficult task.


Walker Little Scouting Report image 3

Little also struggled with his pad level in the run game, but I thought he was much better when Stanford was employing a zone-blocking scheme. Stanford is known for using both power and zone-blocking plays, but they have traditionally been leaned more towards the power plays where linemen are responsible for an individual defender. In those assignments where the player Little was responsible for was the defensive linemen across from him, he usually popped up out of his stance, and it kept him from getting any sort of push at the line of scrimmage. The exception was short-yardage situations when they moved him to the right in an overloaded set. He lined up lone, shot out of his stance with good pad level, and the result was usually in his favor. My only other criticism of him is I'd like to see him finish with more of a nasty streak. I don't see the desire to manhandle the guy across from him or block that extra half second after the whistle. It's not exactly a bad thing, as much as a preference for me.


Walker Little Scouting Report image 4

Draft Stock

As I said, the tape was inconsistent, but the developmental timeline was constantly trending upward. Not every top prospect hits the ground running at the college level. However, that doesn't mean every team has time to be patient with them either. If a freshman is a top-five lineman on the roster, teams find a way to get them on the field, and that is what happened with Little. He was talented enough to get on the field as a true freshman, but maybe not ready to handle the job from a consistency standpoint. Still, Little's steady improvement during the second half of his sophomore year put him on the path to be in the first-round conversation in 2020, assuming he continues that trend as a junior.

There is no doubting that he has the talent, or whether he is capable of playing with better technique. He is just progressing at his own pace. Still, this guy is an outstanding worker with NFL bloodlines. His uncle and grandfather both played in the NFL, and it always seems that Stanford's scholastic expectations work wonders for preparing players to be professionals at the NFL level. With that in mind, his stock will be tied to his continued development as a junior. If things continue to trend upward, I expect him to push to be one of the first linemen off the board. If not, we could see his stock drop, and he could possibly even return to Stanford as a senior.

Player Comparison

I don't think he is built like Ronnie Stanley, but I think they took a similar path during their college time. Stanley had a lot of hype surrounding him at a college that also has a reputation of repeatedly producing top prospects on the offensive line. Still, during his time at Notre Dame, he had issues with consistency and developed at a slower pace than guys like Mike McGlinchey or Quenton Nelson. I also had questions about whether he was a better fit on the right side or left. Still, he's been a serviceable left tackle in the NFL, and I believe Little will be drafted to play on the left side initially.

Games Evaluated

vs. USC (9-8-18)
vs. Oregon (9-22-18))
vs. Notre Dame (9-29-18))
vs. Utah (10-6-18))
vs. Washington (11-3-18))
vs. UCLA (11-24-18))

Notes from Film

  • Watching the USC tape, his base is too wide early in the game, and it's causing him to struggle to maintain his blocks.
  • Feet appear to be a little heavier than you'd like for a guy that is a left tackle prospect and it causes him to lunge at times
  • Shows very good awareness on stunts, wasn't fooled when the man over him dropped into coverage. Through first three tapes, I've seen a lot of stunts thrown his way, and he has only struggled with one where 2018 first rounder, Jerry Tillery got on him quick, drove him wide, then cut inside for the sack
  • Not sure if it's a lack of leverage or a lack of overall strength, but he is having some issues against USC
  • For being a guy that isn't showing the best feet, he does to a terrific job of playing with his eyes at the second level, and his footwork is much more efficient. Also did a nice job of hooking the end inside against Notre Dame on a toss sweep where his body control and footwork were impeccable
  • Shocker! Another Stanford offensive lineman that is a more technically sound player against the run than the pass
  • A couple of guys I had day-three grades on in 2018 Justin Hollins and Porter Gustin both gave him problems with their athleticism and speed
  • Because he plays so much better in space, I think his ideal fit could be in a zone scheme.
  • Against Notre Dame, he is really struggling with his pad level trying to drive players off the ball.
  • In pass protection, becomes so much more effective when he times his punch in order to get his long arms on the defender before they can get a hold of him. If his footwork can be better where he can get in position quicker, this ability to time his punches could make him a very good pass protector
  • Balance is his biggest issue in pass protection
  • As I'm getting further into the season, his pass protection is getting more consistent, and I think rhythm has a lot to do with it. In two of the games where Stanford was forced to pass more often (Utah, Washington), his pad level was lower, his balance was better, and his feet were quicker.
  • Doesn't exactly maul guys to the whistle but as the season went you saw a guy that pushed harder to finish blocks
  • Didn't look like a first-round prospect at the start of the year but his positive momentum down the stretch has put him in that conversation entering his junior year


Scouting Video Courtesy of HMA Sports




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