By: Willie Lovato
- Receiving upside
- Pass blocking
- Looks more athletic than metrics would indicate
- Lower body strength
- A knack for scoring touchdowns
- Ball security
- Good hands
Receiving upside – This is arguably the most valuable trait of Mark Walton’s game. Regardless of how you view him in terms of a runner, his ability to contribute as a receiver out of the backfield will translate to the NFL from day 1. Not only can he handle the easy screens and dump-offs, but Walton has good enough route running to do damage over the middle of the field as well.
Pass-blocking – You could never tell that Walton is undersized based on his pass-blocking. His approach to protecting his quarterback should earn him early playing time on the next level. Aggression and technique are two words that highlight Walton’s pass-blocking.
Looks more athletic than metrics would indicate – Add my name to the list of people that were disappointed by Walton’s athletic testing based on his film. With that being said his film is littered with plays where Walton looks like one of the best athletes on the field.
A knack for scoring touchdowns – Walton was no stranger to the end zone during his time at Miami. He tallied 28 total touchdowns in his three years, 25 of which came in his first two seasons.
Ball security – There is no need to explain the importance of not turning the ball over. Walton checks this box as well. Over the past two seasons, he carried the ball for a total of 265 times. Not one of those attempts turned into a fumble.
- Athletic testing
- Unproven workhorse upside
Athletic testing – As I eluded to earlier, Mark Walton was expected to post average athletic testing numbers at worse when he attended the 2018 NFL Combine. The opposite went on to happen. As you can see below, Walton ranked below the 50th percentile in every workout metric listed on his player page over at Player Profiler. His SPARQ score put him in the 13th percentile. No Bueno.
Size – Walton’s size as a whole doesn’t scare me. It’s how that ties into his skill set as a running back that gives me cause to pause. He is not a big powerful back built to take punishment. He will need to make defenders miss to make up for his size, which is why his below average elusive rating per PFF is somewhat concerning.
Durability – Walton played in just four games in 2017 before suffering a season-ending right ankle injury. Although this doesn’t mean he is destined to suffer more injuries, it is worth mentioning.
Mark Walton’s tape didn’t match his athletic testing. That should always raise questions when evaluating a player. Walton’s already below average (46th percentile) 4.6 40-yard dash time could put a halt to any attempt to add weight to better handle the grind that is the NFL. If he can’t afford to get bigger than he will need to make players miss, which his athletic profile says could be an issue.
There are traits to like about Walton for fantasy. His ability to contribute in the passing game as a receiver, coupled with his likely favorable draft capital, should present opportunity for Walton. I am among the minority that don’t believe in Walton’s ability to be an every-down running back on the next level. Before any athletic testing took place, the two things I hung my hat on when talking about Walton being able to find success on the next level were his athleticism and his elusiveness. With both of those traits now a concern, I will be steering clear of Mark Walton based on his ADP.