Baltimore Ravens scouting reports: Kenny Willekes the all-effort player
Where some athletic marvels lack the heart and grit to be great, Michigan State’s Kenny Willekes has the heart of a lion. Could he be on the Ravens radar?
A former walk-on for the Michigan State Spartans, Kenny Willekes turned out a stellar career in East Lansing. Considering the plethora of defensive talents to come through the program, Willekes still found a way to leave his mark on the organization through his passion for the game and A+ effort on every down.
Willekes plays like he felt he had something to prove every down he played. He’s constantly outbattling his opposition and plays with a tenacity that not everyone plays with. He’s not the biggest, nor the strongest, nor the fastest, nor the most athletic… but he’ll out-work you every time with grit, determination, and maximum effort.
Notable stats for Kenny Willekes (full stats here) 2015-2019:
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- 49 career TFLs (minimum 13 since 2017)
- 23.5 career sacks
- Minimum of 72 tackles per season as a 4-3 defensive end
- Ideal size at 6’3″ 264-lbs.
- Functional strength matches NFL Combine numbers (32 bench reps)
- Former walk-on gives him a chip on his shoulder and an edge to his game; is out to prove something on every down
- Strong leader at Michigan State (team captain in 2019)
- Relentless motor
- A technician with his hands coupled with his brute strength makes him a handful
- Sure tackler that rarely misses
- Short arms at 31 1/4″ and an overall below-average athlete will limit him at the next level
- Will be limited to a three-point stance rusher at the next level
- Tweener without a good fit in a 3-4 defense
- Conversion of speed to power is lacking
Fit with the Ravens:
The Baltimore Ravens are fans of guys who play their hearts out on the field. Where Kenny Willekes lacks in pure athletic talent he makes up for it with his effort and football IQ. Baltimore could greatly value this and spend a day three pick on him.
Willekes would be a core special teams player first and foremost for the Ravens. Getting him on the field may be a little tricky, as he doesn’t have the length to be a true edge rusher but also isn’t big enough to be a defensive lineman. This makes him a curious tweener with no true position.
Kenny Willekes is likely to be limited at the next level, but if any team can carve out a role for him, it’s the Baltimore Ravens. All you need to do is ask Willekes to play smart football, and he can give you that no problem.