by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
When we think about rookie running backs it’s the big names that fill the discussion. Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Joe Mixon and Dalvin Cook are the players everyone is clamoring to acquire, but as your drafts progress don’t overlook the potential value of another rookie runner. Drafted in the fourth round (143rd overall) out of South Florida, the Colts’ Marlon Mack has the potential to make a significant impact as soon as Week 1.
The current depth chart alone should tell us about his potential to produce immediately:
- Frank Gore
- Robert Turbin
- Josh Ferguson
Gore is now 34-years old, and sooner or later the production is going to stop. As it is he averaged 3.9 yards per carry in ’16, breaking just 1 of his 263 carries for more than 20 yards. That’s hardly a dynamic back, and one that isn’t going to help keep defenses honest.
Mack, for his part, dominated over his three seasons in college:
He also proved capable of catching the football, including hauling in 28 passes for 227 yards in his final season. That should slot him into a third down role, at the least, and a solid compliment to Gore with the potential to quickly overtake him. He has the size (listed at 6’0” and 210 lbs) and speed to produce in the NFL, and he certainly found a spot that could yield an opportunity.
That’s not to say that there aren’t questions that need to be answered. Here’s how NFL.com described him prior to the draft:
“Scat back with decent size and blazing getaway speed. Mack has plenty of wiggle to bounce from run lane to run lane and make tacklers miss, but he has a penchant for looking to break runs way outside when the interior becomes too trafficked and he won’t be able to get away with that against NFL speed. Mack is a complementary runner who can hit big runs against defenses who have been worn down, but he needs to be matched with the right scheme in order to unlock his big-play potential.”
Whether or not he becomes more than that remains to be seen, but the potential is there. Even if he is playing behind Gore, with his potential there’s a chance that he offers the most production from the position. You aren’t going to have to invest heavily to obtain him, and because of that he’s an ideal selection in the later rounds of your draft.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
Make sure to check out our early 2017 Rookie Rankings: