If you were listening to the latest episode of the podcast, you would have heard Matt, Rich, and Dynasty Mike (in spirit), briefly mention Mark Walton. He’s a higher end prospect that, many people might not realize, declared for the 2018 draft.
The reason he’s sliding off the map a bit and being forgotten is that he missed a large chunk of 2017 due to season-ending ankle surgery. Despite the injury, Walton has potential to be a difference maker and could come at a lower price tag. Mel Kiper stated, “He’s a 2nd round talent who you can get in the 4th or 5th round, maybe.”
This guy’s tape is one of the most surprising I’ve seen so far. I was not expecting to see what I saw. His balance, agility, vision, explosiveness, and ‘fight’ are next level. The fact that he missed most of 2017 doesn’t worry me at all. There’s no way this guy can be forgotten, and he will be a steal in the later 1st round of rookie drafts.
His stats won’t jump off the page because of his injury, but for a young Junior, he was impressive in limited action.
Not only did Walton almost average a rushing TD every game, but he was just as useful in the passing game as he was on the ground. With 56 receptions in his 2.5 seasons, Walton was a true dual threat. It’s no surprise Miami wanted to get the ball in his hands as much as possible….the guy could make a tackler miss in a cubicle.
I love the way he cuts so sharply and can seemingly hit the top gear instantly to pull away from defenders. His legs don’t stop churning as he drives for extra yards. I can see a lot of analysts knocking his size. Measuring in at 5’9”, 205 pounds, he isn’t a bruiser. However, it doesn’t seem to make him any easier to tackle. He plays much bigger than his size.
Walton’s expected to return from his injury and be healthy in time for the combine. Head Coach Mark Richt said, “it’s the type of surgery that guys that have had it have recovered 100-percent and never had an issue with that type of thing again”. Even if there are risks with his size/durability, his vision, quickness, receiving ability, and balance could blow people away at the combine. I can see him being a polarizing option for those seeking prototypical size, but I’m all in on this guy.
His size, strength, explosiveness, and running style remind me quite a lot of Aaron Jones. I’m higher on Aaron Jones than most, so for me, that’s an impressive comparison. I truly believe Walton can produce RB2 numbers right out of the gate as a rookie. Depending on how his value soars during the draft process, it could be worth trading down from a mid 1st round pick, to a later first to grab this guy. This 2018 RB class is shaping up quite nicely to have value deep into the 2nd round. Of all the impressive RBs in the class, Walton may have the most potential to be a sleeper that steals our hearts.