The 2018 NFL Draft Prospect series breaks down draft-eligible players, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential. Daily fantasy players should know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. The draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, from April 26-28.
This piece is on Miami (FL) running back Mark Walton, who has declared early for the draft. For the total list of all players leaving school early, see our underclassmen tracker.
For more on all the other backs in the class, see our 2018 NFL draft running back rankings.
Updated as of Mar. 4.
Junior | 5’10″ and 202 Pounds | Born February 21, 1997 (Age: 21) | Projection: Rounds 4-5
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.60 sec | bench reps: 18 | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: 31.5 in | broad: 118 in
It maybe would’ve been better if Walton hadn’t even gone to the combine. Walton was something of a forgotten man entering the event, as he missed most of 2017 with an ankle injury that required season-ending surgery, but he had started to get some buzz in the weeks prior to the arriving at Lucas Oil Stadium for his pre-draft testing — but the enthusiasm surrounding Walton is now dead, given that he ran a molasses-slow 40, showed little explosiveness in his leaps, and skipped the agility drills. The combine went as poorly for Walton as it realistically could’ve gone.
But even with his poor combine Walton will probably still be selected in the draft. Although Walton isn’t built like a prototypical between-the-tackles grinder, as a freshman he played well as a change-of-pace and receiving-down back who surprisingly was used near the goal line, adding 10 touchdowns to his 754 yards on 152 touches. As a sophomore he emerged as the lead back for the Hurricanes and totaled 1,357 yards and 15 touchdowns from scrimmage in 13 games. Over that time he played especially well as a receiver, averaging 24.5 receptions for 266.5 yards per season.
As a junior he started the season on fire, averaging 17 touches for 164.7 yards and a touchdown per game for the first few weeks, but in the fourth game of the year against in-state rival Florida State he suffered his campaign-terminating injury. As a small Atlantic Coast Conference back who has solid receiving and goal-line chops, Walton has been compared to Devonta Freeman by NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah and others, but Freeman is almost certainly a best-case outcome for any back who weighs less than 210 pounds. In all probability, Walton is more similar to Duke Johnson or Ameer Abdullah than Freeman.