Marlon Mack is heading into the 2018 NFL season currently being favored to be the Indianapolis Colts’ starting running back. After being considered a sleeper pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Colts are hoping that Mack can break out into the potential that they saw in him.
Looking ahead to 2018, the Colts have some major question marks surrounding them. Can Andrew Luck return to form in 2018 after missing the entire 2017 season? How will the Colts play under new head coach Frank Reich? Who will replace Frank Gore as the lead running back?
As a rookie in 2017, Mack ended up making an impact in both the pass and ground game. He wasn’t consistent, which is a concern for many Colts’ fans heading into this season, but he showed potential. Whether he was ready to be thrown into the starting lineup or not at this point in his career is a completely different question.
Mack ended up carrying the football 93 times for 358 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie for the Colts, according to ESPN statistics. He also caught 21 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown.
Those numbers may not translate to being a capable starting running back, but they certainly do give fans in Indianapolis some hope for the future.
In addition to Mack, the Colts went out and drafted a talented running back in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Nyheim Hines is known for his speed, but he has a top-notch work ethic and is already pushing Mack. It isn’t likely that the rookie out of N.C. State will beat Mack out for the starting job, but he certainly could steal some playing time.
At just 22 years old, Mack will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders this season. Luck is back under center and Mack’s job will be to take as much pressure off of the star quarterback as possible. Indianapolis fans are used to Gore’s consistent production, which is another source of pressure for Mack.
Predicting what kind of season the second-year running back will have is not an easy task. There are so many things that will factor into what his numbers look like at the end of the year. Among those factors are his health, how much playing time Hines receives, and how Reich’s offense runs in Indianapolis.
That being said, expecting around 200 carries for 840 yards and six touchdowns would be reasonable for Mack this year. He could also end up catching around 35 passes for 300 yards and a couple scores.
If Mack is able to record those kinds of numbers throughout the season, the Colts’ offense will be in good shape. Luck may have scared quite a few fans by not throwing footballs throughout the majority of the offseason, but he is ready to play now. Reich’s offense fits Luck’s game perfectly and Mack being a solid threat on the ground would bring everything together.
Expect to see Mack prove some of his critics wrong. Indianapolis isn’t sold on his ability to take over for Gore, but he is ready to prove that the Colts made the right move by not going out and signing a free agent running back.