The Stanford football program has one of the best offensive line prospects in college football. And don’t be surprised if Walker Little is a first-round pick next April.
It was later reported that the rising star offensive tackle was declared out for the entire season as a result of his serious knee injury. Just like that, perhaps the most promising player on Stanford’s team was sidelined before the season could truly start.
It would be a sign of things to come for an unlucky Stanford football team that saw countless key starters go down with injuries. Particularly at the quarterback position, the Cardinal’s 2019 season was marred by injuries.
And Little’s future was affected more so than perhaps any other player.
The 21-year-old was considered a surefire first-round pick going into the season with many analysts projecting him as the top offensive tackle in the class. Some preseason mock drafts even had him as the No. 1 overall pick in the entire draft.
Little entered the season with plenty of hype — as he had his entire career to this point.
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A five-star recruit coming out of high school, Little had his pick of the litter when choosing which college he wanted to attend. He ultimately chose Stanford over a litany of other options, and he immediately made history becoming the first true freshman to start for Stanford at left tackle in 17 years.
He would be named the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year before earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2018. That’s when the nationwide hype train really picked up.
Going into 2019, Little was a preseason All-American per most media outlets and a consensus first-round prospect. However, his unfortunate knee injury wiped all of that away.
But the Texas native announced his intentions to return to Stanford for his senior season late last year. And now, 2020 will be his revenge tour.
With a full year to rehab and recover, Little will look to return healthy and ready to play in his senior season. And if he could reach the level of how he was playing before his injury, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be a first-round pick.
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Plenty of draft analysts are projecting just that — a successful return — with Beacher Report’s Matt Miller mocking him in the first round to the Los Angeles Chargers in his way-too-early 2020 NFL Mock Draft.
Meanwhile, ESPN’s Mel Kiper ranked Little as the No. 5 offensive tackle prospect in what is expected to be another very deep class. Oregon’s Penei Sewell seems to have a handle on the consensus No. 1 tackle prospect, but the following spots are up for grabs.
Texas’ Samuel Cosmi, Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood, and Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield are all offensive tackle prospects being discussed as first-round prospects. Little should have no problem adding his name to that list with another outstanding season.
Provided he’s healthy — and provided there’s an actual college football season to be played — expect Walker Little to establish himself as a universal first-round prospect by the time the 2021 NFL Draft rolls around.