Player Capsule: Mason Walter
Position: Offensive Lineman
Weight: 296 pounds
2016 season quick review: As a redshirt freshman last season, Walter played as a reserve in three games: Oregon, Washington and Arizona.
SunDevilSource.com analysis: Walter has slowly and steadily developed over the course of the last two years. He has been credited by Arizona State coaches, including former offensive line coach Chris Thomsen, and head coach Todd Graham, for the work he's put in. That's not easy to do when you're redshirting and buried on the depth chart, and Walter deserves kudos for having the type of habits and approach that reflect on his improvement even without the benefit of much playing time. Others who do get a lot more playing time would be benefited by such an attitude.
Truth be told, Walter might be one of the most improved players on the ASU roster over a two-year period, but it's important to frame that properly. Upon arrival at ASU he had a very long pathway to being capable of playing at the Pac-12 level, and we genuinely were unsure if he'd be able to get to that point at all, and certainly weren't bullish on his ability to make it before being passed by on the depth chart by younger players.
Part of that's already come to fruition, as sophomore Cohl Cabral -- a year younger than Walter -- is firmly ahead of him at left tackle. But the other part, whether Walter will be able to play effectively in the league, is something we may have been wrong about. Certainly if he continues to progress in the way he has over the last two years, he's got a chance to be technically proficient enough to hold his own as a reserve option.
Walter has really improved the form and efficiency of his kick step in pass pro, which has boosted his range at tackle above the minimum standard. From an athleticism and strength standpoint, he's got a modest ceiling, so he has to be very precise technically. That wasn't there at all early in his career, but he's much further along now with the coordination of his movements and the functional way in which he uses his arms and hands. Speed is still going to give him problems on the edge and he can get overly extended and top heavy against better rushers.
He's not a potent player who is able to move bodies at an average or better rate when compared with his peers, so precision with hands and angles and body posture are essential to Walter's success. That said, he physically looks much more the part now than ever before. He's got enough height and length and weight to do it, but the raw power output is not there yet, and he's not someone who can get out and run with the typical starting tackles in this league such that a broader variety of applications is possible from a play calling standpoint. But he's getting his hands and feet in the right places, and doing so with better posture, more than ever before.
Projected depth chart status: The starting tackles are pretty much locked in for the Sun Devils with Cabral and Quinn Bailey on the right side, unless the Sun Devils decide to slide Bailey to guard, in which case Zach Robertson would almost assuredly be the next tackle in the lineup. Walter is essentially battling redshirt junior Tyson Rising for positioning as the team's fourth offensive tackle. He's outside the team's top seven linemen, so playing time will likely be scarce unless there's a rash of injuries.