There is one thing that Baylor C J.D. Walton wants NFL scouts to do. He wants them to put the Baylor/Nebraska game tape into the DVD player and hit play.
“That’s the game that I’m telling everybody to look at,” Walton said. “I feel confident in what I did.”
Walton knows that Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh is viewed by many as the top defensive player in this year’s draft. With Suh potentially going number one overall this April, Walton thinks that his performance vs. the Huskers’ front-line stud speaks for itself.
Walton is widely-regarded as the top center prospect in the draft this year and he’s been spending his week leading up to the Combine working out on his own in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Baylor alum actually began his career at Arizona State before transferring to his home state of Texas due to personal reasons which led to home sickness. His decision to transfer caught the interest of many media members and has undoubtedly been a topic of discussion for NFL talent evaluators.
“I just wanted to get back close to home,” Walton explained. “I’m a Texans boy born and raised. It was my first time away from home.
“Eighteen years old and the first time away from home,” Walton continued. “I’ve been living Atlanta by myself for two months and haven’t had a problem. I haven’t had to leave. If I knew the things that I would have known now, then I would have graduated from Arizona State.”
Centers historically aren’t selected high in the draft, regardless of if they’re perceived to be the best player available at that position. For that reason, Walton’s goal is to come to Indianapolis and improve his draft stock. He knows that the potential to also play guard would make him appeal to NFL teams even more than he already does.
“I feel like I’m a true center, but I have the ability to play guard,” Walton said. “A bunch of teams want to know if I can play guard and yes sir, I can.
“I’m going to have to play both (center and guard),” Walton continued. “There are seven guys who (dress) and I’m going to have to be flexible and able to play multiple positions.”
Although their on-field performance as a team has left a bit to be desired, Baylor has churned out top talent on the offensive line each of the past two years. Last year, Walton’s teammate Jason Smith was selected #2 overall by the St. Louis Rams.
“He told to just go with the flow and do what everybody says,” Walton said of Smith’s Combine advice. “Follow the pack, because right now we’re just like a herd and we’re all rolling together. He’s just said to have fun with it and take it as it comes.”
Walton started every game of his career at Baylor and was a 2009 All-American as well as a Dave Rimington Trophy finalist. He’s currently anticipated to be selected somewhere in the third or fourth by many scouting services.
In last year’s draft, the first center off the board was Alex Mack from California. He was selected by Cleveland in the first round with the 21st overall pick. Eric Woods out of Louisville was another center selected in the first round of the 2009 draft at pick number 28. Drafting centers that high, however, is not the norm.
In six of the last 10 drafts, no center has been drafted in the first round. In fact, the only position to have fewer players drafted over the past 10 seasons is the fullback position.
Walton is hoping to join both Mack and Woods as an exception to the rule.
“I’m confident in what I can do,” Walton remarked. “The quicker that somebody can get me on the team, the quicker that I can help them out.”