As the 2018 NFL Draft inches it’s way near, let’s take a look at one of the more talented prospects out of the ACC, Mark Walton.
Edgerrin James. Clinton Portis. Frank Gore. Willis McGahee. Mark Walton?
There has been a nice lineage of running backs to don the Orange & Green of the Miami Hurricanes and make their way to the NFL for productive careers. In the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft, the number 11th ranked rusher in the program’s history will look to add his name to that list. He has more than enough talent to do so.
Let’s breakdown the skill set of former Miami running back Mark Walton.
Weight: 205 lbs
Stats: 395 carries, 2,006 rushing yards, 26 touchdowns; 56 catches, 624 receiving yards, two touchdowns
The first thing that pops off the screen in regards to Walton is his excellent vision. Walton has the capability of applying patience upon the handoff and allows his blocks to develop. His vision sees rushing lanes develop before they even manifest. Walton also displays solid balance in between tackles as well as on the boundary. Walton is a tough runner who absorbs punishment and refuses to go down on first contact. An attribute that is very impressive for a runner that is barely over 200 lbs.
Walton also displays lateral movement when in space, which makes it hard for defenders to get a sound target on his frame when tackling. He may not be a speedster but he is definitely quick enough to burst through a hole and take a carry the distance. Walton was productive during his career as he averaged 5.1 yards per carry during his time and recorded 1/3 of his games played with over four yards per carry.
As pointed out, Walton does not have game-breaking speed as he is more quick than fast. His size may worry some teams although he has shown to be oblivious to big hits. With his size deficiencies, it will impact what some teams determine will be a capable workload for him.
While Walton is a willing blocker, there are certain aspects he can work on in that department, which of course will improve his draft stock. His 2017 season was cut short after four games due to a season-ending ankle injury suffered against Florida State.
Walton was arguably the top running back in the ACC entering the 2017 season for a reason. His presence on the team for the 2017 season could have changed the fate of the Hurricanes and possibly made a great 2017 season even better. The 2018 Draft is loaded with running backs so as of now Walton is likely to see his draft range in the second or third rounds.
It will be interesting to see how healthy Walton is around NFL Combine/Pre-Draft time as he is capable of testing fairly well. With his weaponry in both the run and the passing game, Walton can be a solid choice for a team in need of a back that is compact, tough, and valuable to an offense.