Awards: (2018) Big Ten Defensive lineman of the Year, (2018) 2x First Team All Big Ten, (2017) Third team All Big Ten
Kenny Willekes is a player some Big Ten fans and college football fans may not be extremely familiar with. The first thing about Willekes is he has an amazing story that any football fan can love. Kenny entered Michigan State as a preferred walk-on only getting scout team reps. He burst on the scene in 2018 with a dynamic and electrifying season, earning 2018 Big Ten Defensive lineman of the Year and First team All-Big Ten . After he suffered a broken leg in the Red Box Bowl against the Oregon Ducks, many expected him to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft. Instead Willekes returned to the Spartans for the 2019 season and still completed a solid year with 10.5 sacks 2 forced fumbles and 32 solo tackles, while still healing from his leg injury.
Kenny Willekes offers a lot to NFL owners looking for a young edge rusher. Often times Willekes showed the ability to absolutely wreak havoc on the line. His game against Ohio State and Michigan in 2018 provides a perfect example of how big of a distraction he can be. Many have said in 2019 Willekes game play declined due to the injury, in reality Willekes had more sacks in 2019 and also forced more turnovers. The biggest thing Willekes provides to a NFL organization is hard work and a motor.
As stated earlier in the article, Willekes entered Michigan State as a preferred walk-on, he then excelled to be one of the best defensive ends in the Big Ten. While he may not be considered one of the elite edge rushers, Willekes is still one of the best and provides great effort and an unmatched motor that would allow him to work well within a 4-3 defense. I would expect Willekes to be selected within the 2nd -3rd round.
Kenny Willekes highlight video below!