Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama Crimson Tide
40-Time: (NFL Scouting Combine Time Feb. 23 - Mar. 1 to be added)
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Mark Ingram plays with a head of steam on every down. He keeps his feet moving when he's hit and is excellent at breaking tackles. Of his 1,992 rushing and receiving yards in his Heisman Trophy-winning season in 2009, 1,075 of those came after contact. That's 54%! He's a physical runner that isn't going to shy away from contact and leaves every piece of himself on the field. For a player as physical as Ingram, and even for one who isn't, he has excellent ball security and rarely will he lose the football.
He has good vision and is an intelligent runner. You don't rush for 1,658 yards in a season without helping your blockers by setting up defenders to be blocked. He's an agile runner even if he could stand to add a little more finesse to his game. Ingram has good acceleration and is very quick. He's featured back material around which an NFL team can build its running game.
Ingram is also a good receiver out of the backfield. He caught 32 passes for 334 yards and three touchdowns in 2009 and 21 passes for 282 yards and a touchdown in 2010. For his career, he averages 11.2 yards per catch.
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Ingram does not possess elite speed and isn't a game-breaker of a running back. That isn't as much of a weakness as much as a manner in which to define his game. Ingram won't outrun the fastest NFL cornerbacks, but he'll pick up tough, hard yards and has good speed to run away from a lot of would-be tacklers. You don't draft Ingram thinking he'll be a game breaker of a running back. You draft him as a tough, productive back.
One area of Ingram's game that could use improvement is in pass protection. Ingram is big enough to excel in this area, but needs to be coached up on protecting the quarterback in the backfield. He isn't afraid of contact, as has been made clear, but he needs work on this part of his game and take better angles on pass rushers.
Ingram was the Heisman Trophy winner in 2009, rushing for 1,658 yards and 17 touchdowns in the Tide's National Championship-winning season. Ingram added 334 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver out of the backfield in '09. Ingram missed the first two games of the 2010 season with an injury and finished with 875 yards and 13 touchdowns. He is the son of former NFL wide receiver and first-round pick Mark Ingram, Sr., who was a part of the New York Giants' Super Bowl XXV squad. He played for the Giants, Dolphins, Packers and Eagles in his career.
Potential NFL Team, Round
Andrew Erickson, in an article for Xtra Point Football, gave his case for the Dallas Cowboys to select Ingram with the ninth pick in this year's draft. Erickson argues that with signs pointing to Marion Barber's eventual release, "Felix Jones and Tashard Choice will be left to shoulder the load." Jones and Choice are excellent backs, Erickson points out, but neither is a featured back. It's a pick that few, if anybody, are talking about at this point, but it's one that is very interesting.
Currently, the popular destination, and really the most likely, for Ingram is the Miami Dolphins with the 15th pick, which would have him joining a Miami backfield that may be sans Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, as both are free agents. Williams is a favorite to return, but he's more of a backup or complimentary back at this stage in his career and adding Ingram would give the Dolphins a young featured back. Picking one spot ahead of the Dolphins, the St. Louis Rams could look to add Ingram to join Steven Jackson, while the New England Patriots could consider Ingram with the 17th pick.
Ingram is largely considered a mid-round pick, but there's a possibility that a team likes Mikel Leshoure enough to take him ahead of Ingram. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers at #20 is an interesting possibility for the Heisman Trophy winner, while the Indianapolis Colts at #22 is a possibility as well. The Seattle Seahawks at #25, New England again at #28, and the Green Bay Packers at the bottom of the round are other possibilities should he slip into the bottom of the round.
Danny Hobrock, a sports journalist covering NCAA Football and MLB is the editor of our college football content. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. You may email Danny directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ DannyHobrock
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