Editor’s Note: To help you dominate your rookie drafts, this series will feature a look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of over 40 dynasty rookie draft prospects and run all through the month of May and even into June. We’ll cover all the premier prospects but also give you critical information on some of the lesser known talents. All of these rookie updates will be loaded into our ever-evolving 2018 Rookie Draft Guide – the ultimate resource for dynasty enthusiasts all over the world.
Name: Jordan Wilkins
Position: Running Back
Pro Team: Indianapolis Colts
College Team: Mississippi
Draft Status: Round Five, Pick 32 (169 overall)
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- Bench Press = 16 reps
- Vertical Jump = 36.0
- Broad Jump = 117.0
- 20-yard shuttle = 4.27
- Height = 6’1″
- Weight = 216 pounds
- Hands = 9 3/8″
- Arms = 30 1/8″
- Good size and speed combination
- Has very fluid hips and feet
- Patient runner who lets his blocks develop
- Averaged 7.1 yards per carry against SEC competition and 6.5 overall
- Has one-cut and go running qualities
- Exhibits nice footwork
- Vision is above average
- Isn’t worn down as a runner due to limited college carries
- Had multiple long gains as a runner, including at least a ten-yard carry in 11 straight games to finish his career
- Doesn’t seem to play to his size
- Tries to bounce too many runs to the outside in order to avoid contact
- Has a tendency to struggle in pass protection
- Goes down on first contact far too often
- Arguably too patient at times
- Hard to truly evaluate with just 279 career carries
- Not highly regarded as a pass catcher after posting just 32 career catches in three seasons
- Never carried the ball more than 20 times in a single game making durability and endurance a concern
Wilkins finds himself in a great spot as a late round pick. The Colts were rumored to be interested in many running backs leading into the 2018 NFL Draft but passed on all the highly regarded ones (likely wisely) in order to shore up their offensive line problems. With a depth chart featuring Marlon Mack (unproven), Robert Turbin (aging and pedestrian), Nyheim Hines (also a rookie) and Christine Michael (don’t get me started), the path to carries is wide open. While Mack will certainly get the first shot at the starting job, Wilkins should be able to make his case to stick around with a strong Summer and preseason. It’s not far fetched at all to see him seize the starting job if the other running backs are less than impressive going into the season. While that’s certainly not something to bank on and highly unlikely, Wilkins has a chance and that’s about as much as you could hope for when you’re drafted this late. In short, there are few teams out there with a more dire need than the Colts at the position and Wilkins can carve out a role if he shows well.
The biggest threat to Wilkins is the fact he’s a fifth round pick. If he doesn’t play well in camp and struggles to pick up the offense, he could have a very short career as it’s not uncommon to see fifth round picks fail to make the team and either end up on the street or on a practice squad. In addition, if the entire running back corps fails as a whole, Indianapolis will likely use a high pick next year on a running back they can truly bank on. It’s also very possible the Colts decide they need more help this season and sign a free agent like Adrian Peterson or Alfred Morris to help out. In short, there are plenty of scenarios to see this whole thing fail for Wilkins.
Admittedly, I love late round or undrafted SEC running backs who have been productive and Wilkins fits the bill. There are many who say he’s good at a lot of things but not great at any – that’s true to an extent and he’s far from elite on paper. However, you have to have some ability to post 101 yards on 12 carries against Alabama and record 908 yards on seven yards per carry in the toughest conference in college football. When you combine that with the fact he landed in what can only be described as a near perfect situation, Wilkins is clearly an interesting late round rookie draft prospect. With all that being said, his short-term expectations are really difficult to project. He could flame out quickly or ascend to getting the lion’s share of the carries. I’d expect him to make the team out of camp, then get a chance for meaningful committee touches with Hines if and when Mack fails to seize the job.
Wilkins doesn’t project to be a bellcow running back or future starter in the league – his draft capital and limited production just don’t merit that kind of expectation. However, there are very few late round running backs each year with such a clear-cut opportunity to ascend a depth chart. If he can show his production at Ole Miss was no fluke, he could be a diamond in the rough and a bargain in rookie drafts.
The players I’ve seen Wilkins compared to the most are Ahmad Bradshaw and Aaron Jones. Those could be lazy comparisons of late round running backs who found success but you can also see a little bit of them in the way Wilkins runs the ball. Those who draft him can only hope we see that kind of potential.
PROJECTED ROOKIE DRAFT RANGE
Wilkins currently has a Rookie ADP of 40, making him a mid-4th round selection in most rookie drafts. At that point in the draft, owners are throwing darts and hoping to find a hidden rookie gem. I’d have no problem taking a shot with Wilkins in that range. While it’s highly likely he doesn’t turn into anything, there’s a possibility of him getting meaningful carries in his rookie season and that alone is worth a late round rookie draft flier. Plus, I grew up in the 80s and when you Google “Jordan Wilkins,” you get some epic highlights of some dunk contests between Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins (who actually should have won that contest in Chicago had their not been home cooking) – that in itself is worth doing some additional Jordan Wilkins research. Maybe he can be the next “human highlight film.”
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK