When people think of the NFL combine, they think of workouts; 40-yard dashes, bench presses, vertical jumps, etc.
This week, Penn State offensive tackle Rasheed Walker won’t be doing much of that. His big day for on-field work will come in late March, not this Friday.
“I actually plan on working out on my Pro Day, March 24, so I really won’t be doing too much tomorrow,” Walker told reporters in Indianapolis this morning.
Workouts aside, Walker still has a lot to gain from this week in Indy.
Walker said he’s met with the Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, and Pittsburgh Steelers of the teams mentioned during his presser.
When Walker meets with teams, they inquire about his versatility.
“I’ll meet with teams, they’ll ask me ‘have I played other positions'”?” he said. “The answer to that would be ‘yes.’ I’ve played a little bit of right tackle early in my football career. I played right tackle for four years in high school because we had a left-handed quarterback, and I started all 33 games at left tackle at Penn State.”
The Steelers are an intriguing possibility for Walker. As any football fan in Pennsylvania knows, plenty of Penn State fans are Pittsburgh Steeler fans. The offensive line is also an area of need for Pittsburgh, and going to the Steelers would reunite Walker with one of his college teammates, tight end Pat Freiermuth.
“That’s my guy,” Walker said.
The two came to Penn State together in 2018. Freiermuth declared for the NFL draft after the pandemic-themed 2020 season, went to the Steelers in the second round of last year’s draft and instantly became the team’s No. 1 tight end.
Freiermuth finished 2021 with 497 yards and seven touchdowns on 60 catches. Walker isn’t surprised by his friend’s achievements, either at Penn State or in the NFL.
“He’s always had the hands, crisp routes, always been disciplined,” Walker said. “So no one was really surprised with his success.”
Walker talked about two other prominent teammates. He singled out former Nittany Lions defense end Yetur Gross-Matos as a difficult man to block in practice.
Walker got to Penn State in 2018, the year Gross-Matos, now with the Carolina Panthers, established himself as a force on Penn State’s defensive line.
“Early on in my football career at Penn State, we got a lot of really good work in,” Walker said. “He’s just an unorthodox pass rusher, and I feel like that really helped my game a lot.
“When he would rush, he wouldn’t really give up any clues on what he was going to do. He was also very flexible, so it really kept me on my toes. I feel like that really helped me with my awareness, you know, helped me learn how to really move my feet and keep my good body position. I could say other things about a lot of other guys, but I feel like Yetur really set the foundation early in my career.”
One of the other guys Walker played with was Micah Parsons, who is now one of the best defenders in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys. Walker said he and Parsons had quite a few one-on-one battles on the practice field.
Who won those battles?
“I would say that I got the best of him,” Walker said, “he’d probably say otherwise. But he was a great pass rusher also. He really helped me with my game, too.”
Walker’s time at Penn State was a little disappointing record-wise. After going 11-2 in 2019, Walker’s first season as the team’s full-time starting left tackle, the Nittany Lions went just 11-11 over Walker’s last two seasons.
Despite some underachievement, Walker is happy with the way his college life turned out.
“I had a really good time at Penn State,” he said. “Won a lot of football games, played with a lot of great players. I feel like everything was smooth at Penn State.”
Walker is expected to be drafted somewhere in the mid-to-late rounds, and his potential has been described as “boom or bust.”
The Waldorf, Maryland, native had high expectations after returning to school for the 2021 season but only was able to make the All-Big Ten honorable mention team and frustrated fans with his performance at times– the Michigan game, where he right tackle Caedan Wallace struggled against probable first-rounders Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo comes to mind.
Overall, however, Walker feels that he has the speed, skill set and mindset needed for the NFL.
“One of my biggest strong suits is, just like, my mentality and my competitive spirit,” he said. “I’m going to go out and compete. I’m going to give my all every play and every game. I’m also very strong, athletic, smart.”