Marlon Mack may not be a household name in Indianapolis yet, but it won’t be long before he becomes a fan favorite. Heading into his rookie season with the Indianapolis Colts, Mack has already been turning heads in preseason and training camp action. He may not overtake Frank Gore for the starting job, but he certainly has the potential to make a major impact on the Colts’ 2017 season.
Indianapolis wasn’t necessarily prioritizing a running back in the 2017 NFL Draft, but the team could not pass up the opportunity to snag Mack with the No. 143 overall pick.
In the Colts’ second preseason games, Mack has made a major impact in his debut. He carried the football five times for 45 yards while also catching two passes for 14 yards. At just 21-years-old, Mack has flashed star potential early on in his NFL career.
Last season at South Florida, Mack racked up 1,187 yard and 15 touchdowns on 174 attempts. Those numbers round out to an impressive 6.8 yards per carry.
Head coach Chuck Pagano has already been noticing his rookie running back. He had very good things to say about the young back despite being disappointed in the offense as a whole.
“I thought he was outstanding. He’s going to be a heck of a football player, whether he’s running the football — I think he averaged nine yards a carry, made a couple of nice catches. [He had a] screen called back because of a foolish holding penalty again on [offensive tackle Le’Raven Clark].”
Now that the Colts are getting a good look at Mack, they should plan to unleash him as a rookie in 2017.
Gore is heading into the final stages of his career and appeared to slow down a bit last season. He did rush for 1,025 yards, but injuries are beginning to nag more, and he has lost most of his big play potential. Big plays are something that Mack is more than capable of bringing to a needy Colts’ offense.
At this point in time, it appears that the Colts could be without franchise quarterback Andrew Luck to start the season. That has not been confirmed to this point, but the running game will have to step up in a big way if backup quarterback Scott Tolzien is forced to start at any point in 2017. Gore certainly will not be able to handle that large of a load by himself.
Mack is more than capable of being a threat on the ground or through the air, as coach Pagano noted in his quote. That is an ability that the Colts have not had in quite some time. Using a dual-back system might be the Colts’ best chance to improve their offensive playmaking ability.
Starting Mack over Gore likely will not happen this season. Gore has earned the right to start and is still capable of picking up chunks of yardage when needed. Giving Mack a good 10 carries per game, on the other hand, is something that Pagano and the Colts’ coaching staff need to try.
It may be a couple years before Mack is a 1,000-yard back in Indianapolis, but his ceiling cannot be seen yet. Mack might very well be the long-term answer in the Colts’ backfield.
All of that being said, it will be interesting to watch the young running back in 2017. Mack has been soaking up wisdom from veterans and has shown an impressive work ethic. If he keeps that up, a role will most certainly open up for him with the Colts in 2017, and they should give him as much time on the field as he earns.
Do you think Marlon Mack will make a major impact for the Indianapolis Colts in 2017? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[Featured Image by Michael Ainsworth/AP Images]