April 28, 2011

Mark Ingram, runningback, Alabama

Mark Ingram, runningback, Alabama, 28th overall pick
5'9 1/8", 215, 4.59 40

The Saints harken back to 10 years ago, when in 2001 they drafted a star SEC runningback even though their depth chart at the position was solid. 

In 2001, the Saints took Ole Miss RB Deuce McAllister with the 23rd overall pick, in a puzzling move with Ricky Williams and Chad Morton already on the roster.  Jim Haslett at the time called the runningback job in the NFL a two man job. 

Ten years later, the Saints took Alabama RB Mark Ingram with the 28th overall pick, in a puzzling move with Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory, and Lynell Hamilton already on the roster.  Sean Payton has frequently used a committee at runningback.

The Saints also harken back to their first ever draft class in 1967, which started off with bruising Alabama ball-carrier Les Kelley with the 26th pick in the first round.  Kelley would be moved to linebacker, however, and cut two years later.

The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner as a junior at Alabama, Ingram's measurements don't scream first round pick - he's short and without top-end speed.  He was supplanted by a younger upcoming star at Alabama in Trent Richardson.  He lost the first two starts of the 2010 season to a knee scope, and sprained his ankle in the Capital One Bowl in January.

But Ingram is powerfully built and very thick.  He's an every down player, a willing and able blocker and a workhorse.  He's a terrific athlete who played at the top tier of football at a top program.  Ingram won a national championship and a Heisman Trophy to power the Crimson Tide to the 2010 National Championship game.

Ingram has many of the qualities that make Pierre Thomas an excellent runningback - extremely difficult to tackle, very shifty and quick.  He's got a devastating stiff arm, and excelled on change-direction screen plays.  Ingram rarely fumbles, rarely tires.

Ingram finished his senior year with 158 rushing attempts for 875 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 21 receptions for 282 yards and a score.  In 2009, Ingram earned the Heisman with 1658 yards on 281 attempts, 17 TD's, 32 receptions for 334 yards and three touchdowns as the Crimson Tide won the BCS National Championship. 

Ingram's got the NFL pedigree, as his father Mark Ingram Sr. was a journeyman wide receiver from 1987 to 1996. Ingram, Sr. is currently in prison on bank fraud charges, with his sentence extended after an escape attempt.

The Saints traded their 2012 first round pick and their 2011 second round pick to the Patriots to move up and get Ingram, going from 56th to 28th overall.  Before the draft, Mickey Loomis told national radio that Ingram was the top runningback on their board.

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