Rookie Spotlight: Mark Walton

Josh Padgett, Contributor

This short article is the fourth in a growing series of guys that I am going to be higher on than most.  I will discuss some of the combine measurements, some of the tape, and just give an overall prognosis of what I am hoping for from these guys, and of course, where I am looking to take them in a rookie draft.

Three wide receivers kicked this series off, now time for some running backs.  Walton is one of my favorite players in this draft. My love for Walton stems from my comparison for him.  I think Walton runs a lot like Maurice Jones-Drew. He possesses similar size to MJD as well. He runs low with a lot of power.  He breaks through arm tackles and has some really solid balance.

Walton was on track to be a top level back in this class, but that was derailed by an ankle surgery that ended his season in October.  He has fought his way back from that injury but he did not test very well at the combine. He did not participate in the agility drills which tells me he still needs more time to be fully back. He ran a 4.6 in the 40 which isn’t great, but he showed enough game speed and breakaway speed isn’t his calling card by any means.  He showed below average explosion in the vert and broad jump but as he continues to strengthen that ankle I expect more of that explosiveness to come back. Walton does have a tendency to bounce outside and dance a lot. His lower body strength and low running style allow him to escape from trouble in some of the bad situations he can get himself in at the college level.  

This will be more difficult in the NFL, but with more coaching he can learn to take what is there and not try to create unnecessarily. More than anything, Walton is fun to watch. He can play on all three downs and plays the game with a lot of passion. He is a weapon out of the backfield with the ability to create separation from linebackers and safeties. He is on the small side for a 3 down back, but I bet he can put on some weight as he continues his recovery from his ankle.  

I am not saying he will be an RB1, but he has that upside. I am also very comfortable with his floor. Draft capital won’t be a huge issue as I expect him to be taken somewhere between the 4th and 5th round, and draft capital usually doesn’t have a huge bearing on running back opportunity anyways. Walton could be asked to play any number of roles on an offense which gives me confidence that he will play plenty early in his career, regardless of landing spot. I am drafting Walton as high as 1.10 for now.  Landing spot will likely determine where I actually get a hold of him though.

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Josh Padgett

Husband and dad. From Indianapolis, to Purdue University, to living in Fort Wayne. Colts season ticket holder. On Twitter too much (@jpadgett94), but thrilled to talk about football, basketball, wrestling and more with anyone, anytime. Resident Devy/Draft guy here at Top 2 Sports. If you learn anything from me, it's that you got to risk it for the biscuit.

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