He's so sudden and powerful in tight areas that he consistently has the wiggle/fluidity to make a defender miss in a phone booth and accelerate into the open field. Consistently is able to maintain balance through contact while churning his legs and fighting for additional yards. Is also very patient inside and showcases a real feel setting up blocks and exploding into daylight.
He's a two-stepper in every sense of the word, getting up to top-end speed instantly out of his breaks. Now, he is more quick than fast, and lacks an elite second gear to his game once he gets into the open field. But, he still possesses good enough game speed and will be able to create his fair share of long runs at the next level because of his ability to side step/break tackles at the line and accelerate into daylight.
Doesn't take many big shots from defenders because of his pad level, vision and lateral quickness. However, he's a violent runner who dishes out his fair share of punishment. Runs very hard and at times instead of protecting his frame he will lower his head into contact and subject himself into a lot of additional contact, likely shortening his NFL career if he keeps the same running style. Has already had to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee prior to the season and has seen his fair share of bruises and bumps because of his running style.
Now, he's still maturing as a pass blocker inside, but has the natural strength and body control to hold up in that area. Isn't the most natural of receivers in the pass game. But, can adjust to the football and for the most part finds a way to trap the football
Impression: He's one of the most natural runners I've seen in years and looks like an impact-caliber guy ready to carry the load at the next level from day one and mature into one of the better backs in the NFL."
Ingram averaged 5.1 yards per carry as a true freshman for the Tide, rushing for 728 yards and a team-best 12 rushing touchdowns. Ingram's sophomore season was his best, breaking the school record for rushing yards with 1,658 to help Alabama win the national championship and become the first player in Alabama's storied history to win the Heisman Trophy.
He didn't pad his stats against inferior competition. Ingram was at his best against the best, rushing for an average of 156.8 yards per game against the six top 25 teams Alabama faced in 2009.
A knee injury requiring arthroscopic surgery in the days before the Tide opened the 2010 season kept Ingram sidelined for the first two games of the year. He came back strong, scoring two touchdowns in each of his first three games back. Alabama wasn't shy about passing the ball down the stretch, and Ingram's numbers dipped. His only two 100-yard rushing games of the year came in September.
He finished his junior season with 816 rushing yards, but scouts won't lose sight of the fact that he gained an average of 5.6 yards per attempt. Ingram was greatly aided by a talented and physical offensive line. He does not possess off-the-charts athletic ability or talent equal to many recent first-round draft picks at the position. But the commonality he shares with the NFL's most productive backs are natural vision, balance, burst and ball security, which will make up for his average speed.
Inside Running: Possesses the deal frame for running between the tackles. Quickly presses the line of scrimmage and has the burst to get to and through the hole. Keeps his shoulders squared to the line and runs hard with a low center of gravity. His feet churn through contact and allow him to play bigger on short-yardage runs. Good awareness of the first-down marker. Has the leg drive and forward lean to finish runs falling forward. Instinctive runner with a good feel for when to bounce off blocks and set up cutback lanes. Can plant and drive to capitalize on a crease. Good vision and acceleration to get into the secondary. Does not possess elite stopwatch speed, but has enough to break free for long gains. Excellent ball security -- two fumbles in his career.
Outside Running: Possesses good but not great speed to get to the edge. Best attributes as an outside runner are his vision to identify opening holes and the burst and power he shows coming out of decisive cuts. Doesn't waste time running laterally unless he sees he has the corner. Can make defenders miss in tight quarters with good lateral agility, but isn't a dancer.
Breaking Tackles: Surprisingly powerful runner with a low center of gravity. He keeps his legs churning through contact. Won't wow with his ability to run over defenders, but is tough to bring down. Defenders have a hard time lining up a clean shot on him despite his broad frame and he shows good shiftiness when cornered. Capable of absorbing or delivering a big hit and maintaining his balance. Defenders have to wrap him up.
Blocking: Cognizant pass blocker. Is willing to take on the hard-charging defender and shows good effort and physicality to gain a stalemate. When trying to cut defenders he often gets too low, allowing defenders to easily leap over him.
Receiving: Reliable receiver out of the backfield with soft hands and good flexibility to extend and pluck the ball. Secures the ball quickly. Good vision for the screen game and he has the patience to set up blocks, rather than run past them.
Intangibles: Son of former New York Giants wide receiver Mark Ingram, who is serving time for fraud and money laundering. The first running back to win the Heisman and the national championship in the same season since Tony Dorsett (Pittsburgh, 1976). Won the Derrick Thomas Community Award following 2010 spring practice."
Field Vision: Ball carrier vision is more than just running behind blockers. Ingram is able to set up his lineman's blocks and make cuts off of them, getting every possible yard out of each carry. Does a good job of seeing the cutback lanes and knowing when to take the ball outside. He rarely out runs his blockers or into them while they are making their blocks.
Balance/Breaking Tackles: Ingram possesses great balance which helps make all other aspects of his game that much better. Being a balanced runner keeps him from falling over downed players when he rushes through the line and bounce off attempted tackles without being knocked to the ground. Doesn't have a great stiff arm, but can cut on a dime and if defenders don't wrap him up, he has a great chance of getting more yards.
Pass Catching/Blocking: The major flaw in Ingram's game is when the offense needs to throw. He doesn't anchor well in pass protection and often times will simply throw a shoulder at the rusher as they close in on the quarterback. Try to pass pro like that in the NFL and defenders will simply bowl over him and run right pass him as he tries to throw his body at them. He has soft hands to catch passes, but doesn't run crisp routes out of the backfield. Most of these faults are fixable through coaching, however, he will still need plenty of reps to perfect it and that could take a while.
Games Viewed: '10: LSU, Auburn, Arkansas, South Carolina '09: VTech, Arkansas, LSU, Florida, BCS Championship
Final Word: Ingram has had a very celebrated career in college, but I don't think he will be a running back in the pros in the vein of Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson. He can be the lead back in a tandem, but doesn't have the all around game to be a solo act. The combine is around the corner and the one thing that could really help Ingram's stock would be running a 4.3 40. This wouldn't push him into the top 10 picks, but his biggest question right now is his top end speed as there are several instances where he was catch from behind by defensive lineman (most notably by Auburn DE Antoine Carter who also knocked the ball loose and out of the back of the end zone in this years Iron Bowl).
Answering that concern could see him go in the Top 15 like Ryan Matthews last year, but that comparison could also work against him. Both running backs that were taken early in the '10 draft (C.J. Spiller and Ryan Matthews) failed to make much of an impact for their lofty draft position and the two most productive rookie running backs from last season were undrafted free agents (LeGarrette Blount and Chris Ivory) as was the Rushing Title holder (Arian Foster). Teams surely took note of this and with the trend to use multiple backs increasing across the league, Ingram's stock will be down despite his talent."
Ball Protection: Only two fumbles in three seasons at Alabama. Excellent ball security. Fumbles will not be an issue in the NFL. Has a strong grip and excellent placement when securing the ball.
Elusiveness/Feet/Agility: Does a great job of keeping his feet moving. Is not elusive in the open field. Will make one cut and lower his shoulders. Good enough agility, but is a classic power runner who does not try to shake defenders.
Pass Catching: Good hands. Used primarily in screen packages. Does a good job locating the ball and bringing it in to his body. Does not let the ball get inside him.
Pass Blocking: Is a willing blocker who has shown a good ability to protect the quarterback in passing situations. Will not be a weak link in terms of blocking for his NFL team.
Power: Strong and well built to handle tacklers. Is best used as an inside runner. Has thick legs that power his runs. Low center of gravity. Exceptional tackler breaker. Defenders will bounce off him if not hit low. Very good leg drive. Falls forward when hit.
Size/Length/Hand Size: Great size for a three-down running back.
Speed: Ingram is not a phenomenal athlete, nor does he possess exceptional athletic ability. He will run a decent high-4.4 in the 40 yard dash and test in the middle on all agility drills. He does have the speed to do damage in the open field, but he will not be outrunning many people.
Vision/Balance/Instincts: Ingram is not fast enough to simply out run defenders, but he has the vision and instincts to get to the edge. Does a very nice job finding holes and then exploding through them.
Final Word: A knee injury caused Ingram to miss the first two games of the 2010 season, but he looked good down the stretch despite sharing carries with Trent Richardson and the Alabama offense relying on the pass more.
The son of a former NFL running back wide receiver, Ingram has the pedigree and accolades that NFL scouts love. His lack of elite speed and limited upside will prevent Ingram from being a top 15 pick. He will likely land anywhere between 16 and 35 on draft day."
Ingram is arguably the best back in the draft.
Ingram was recruited as an athlete coming out of Flint Southwestern Academy where he was an All-State track performer. Despite playing in Michigan, Ingram landed with the Crimson Tide in which he made an immediate impact behind Glen Coffee.
As a sophomore, Ingram blew up only to finish the Alabama season 13-0 on their way to a national title appearance, which they later went on to win. Between the SEC Championship game and the national championship game, there was a little award he won called the Heisman Trophy.
Ingram went into 2010 as a favorite to repeat as the Heisman Trophy winner, but he started the season with a knee injury holding him out of the first two games. His overall production in 2010 doesn’t nearly match his 2009 campaign, but he still rushed for over 5.5 yards per carry.
Ingram is a man of few weaknesses. He’s a powerful north and south runner who hits the hole with power. He’s a very patient runner, often following his blockers and allowing them to get setup before bursting through and gaining yardage. He has very solid hands out of the backfield, and is capable of running the wildcat offense. He’s impossible to tackle in the open field, and he fights for extra yardage, rarely going down on first contact. He doesn’t run out of bounds, and he does a great job continuously churning his legs. He very rarely fumbles, carrying the ball with protection. He runs with a low pad level, punishing opposing tacklers.
His weaknesses aren’t really glaring, and that’s a great thing. While he has very underrated speed, it’s not elite. In the NFL he may struggle to break the long runs down the field. He could stand to be more patient in pass protection, often leaning into blocks, which lead to Trent Richardson being in more in passing situations as games progressed.
There is no reason why Mark Ingram won’t be a first round pick. Getting into the Top 10 will be tough in this top heavy draft class, and running back is the easiest transition in the NFL, which makes it less likely for a runner to go in the Top 5-10 generally.
If he would go in the Top 10, a team like Cincinnati or Washington could grab him. Shanahan generally doesn’t draft first round running backs, so that’s more unlikely. Look for Miami to take a hard look at Ingram at pick 15, as well as New England with the 17th pick overall.
NFL Comparison: Rashard Mendenhall"
Negatives: Not an elite athlete, just has marginal top-end speed, is not the guy you will draft if you're looking for a home run threat... Needs to work on pass-protection, has the frame to be a good blocker, but takes bad angles and misses a lot of his assignments... Suffered a small hip injury against Auburn in 2009, but bounced back well from it... Numbers could drop a little bit this year due to splitting carries with Trent Richardson, whom some believe is actually a better NFL prospect... Will not contribute at all on special teams... Doesn't have much for open field moves, absorbs a lot of hits... Will come out of college with a lot of tread on his tires... Has just limited upside due to his average athleticism."
Strengths: Extremely powerful downhill runner with patience, has the ability to break arm tackles with ease. TD scoring machine, recording 46 total in his 3 seasons with Alabama. Can create after the catch, and has above average hands for a RB.
Weaknesses: Average top speed and acceleration. Will get run down at the next level. Took a reduced role in his Junior year.
Projection: Top 10-15 pick. Will be the first or second back off the board."
A minor concern is the knee injury that sidelined Ingram for the first two games of this season and he has not been the same since. He returned for huge games against Duke and Arkansas, but those are two terrible defenses. In the next three SEC games, Ingram gained no more than 60 yards against either Florida, South Carolina, or Mississippi. Still, Ingram could be the best running back on the board and if he gets it back in gear, he could garner a Top 10 selection in the 2011 draft."
Pros: The Heisman Trophy winner is the true definition of a workhorse. He rushed the pigskin 271 times as a sophomore, including seven games with at least 22 carries. Playing in Nick Saban’s pro-style, smash-mouth offense Ingram proved last year that he can indeed be the focal point of a championship offense. Including both the SEC Championship Game and BCS Championship Game Ingram turned in nine 100-yard games (he rushed for 99 versus Tennessee) and rushed for 140-plus yards in six of those contests. The Alabama product is built solidly and runs with a very low center of gravity with exceptional balance. It is very difficult to knock Ingram off balance, which makes it nearly impossible to knock him out of his running lane or bring him down unassisted. While he’s not a thoroughbred, Ingram has exceptional burst, which allows him to both hit the hole at the line of scrimmage and get on top of the secondary with decent quickness. What truly stands out about the Crimson Tide running back are his instincts and desire—he understands the game of football and will do whatever it takes to win. Ingram is blessed with vision, patience and toughness. Not many backs are as adept at seeing the field, anticipating holes and making use of their blockers. He is also a fearless runner—the all-SEC performer hits holes and defenders with equal authority thanks to his powerful legs. His leg drive is well above average, evidenced by his ability to push a pile and effectively fight for extra yardage. Because of his anticipation Ingram is difficult to get a big hit on, which allows him to handle a large workload while remaining durable. The Michigan native is also an incredibly underrated threat coming out of the backfield as a receiver (32 receptions for 334 yards,10.4 yards per reception in 2009), where his instincts and natural hands make him a mismatch against any linebacker. Ingram has excellent versatility; he can play in any offensive or blocking scheme and run in-between-the-tackles or attack the edges. The national champ also shows excellent blocking ability which, when combined with his pass-catching skills, give Ingram the look of a true, three-down running back. His father, also named Mark Ingram, played 10 seasons as a wide receiver in the NFL.
Cons: Despite the accolades and pedigree, Ingram is not an elite athlete. He is not going to wow anyone at the NFL Scouting Combine in terms of his measurables and will not remind anyone of Adrian Peterson, who is considered by many to be the standard for NFL running backs. His frame appears to be maxed out so he probably won’t get much bigger even as he matures. Moreover, don’t expect Ingram to be much of a home run threat on the NFL level as he lacks elite, long speed. This Crimson Tide runner did wear down some as the season went on and was not nearly as effective in his final two pre-BCS Bowl contests as he was during most of his award-winning season. Ingram ran for a season-low 30 yards (1.9 yards per carry) in Alabama’s regular season finale at Auburn and was limited to just 4.0 yards per carry (28 carries, 113 yards) against Florida in the SEC Championship game. This came after he averaged 5.5 yards per carry or better in 10 of the Tide’s first 11 games of the 2009 campaign.
Our View: While the Flint native was devalued by some coming out of high school because he wasn’t the biggest or fastest schoolboy runner, Coach Saban saw something in Ingram and was rewarded for it. Last year, as a true sophomore, Ingram became the first player in Crimson Tide history to win the Heisman Trophy…and he did it on the way to winning a National Championship. He may not stand out physically or grab the attention of onlookers the way Reggie Bush did as a collegian, but the man is an elite football player. Much like another #22, Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, Ingram combines decent overall physical ability with truly top-notch instincts, desire and recognition abilities. It also has to be noted that the Alabama man is not substandard in any way as his size, speed and strength are all NFL caliber. Ingram is as dependable and consistent as they come—a true workhorse. In an NFL where that breed of running back is an endangered species, Ingram’s value—despite his lack of off-the-charts athletic talent—will be very high in next year’s draft should he forgo his final season in Tuscaloosa. It will be interesting to see how Ingram handles the bulls-eye on his chest that comes with being a returning Heisman Trophy winner—recently Jason White, Matt Leinart, Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford all failed to repeat. In addition, Ingram may have to share more carries as a junior with true-sophomore Trent Richardson, who averaged 15 carries in Alabama’s final three games (he averaged nine carries through 11 games)."
He is highly competitive, well-built and has been the catalyst of a national-championship offense. He is sound in pass protection and has the tools to become an every-down back in the pros. He is expected to declare for the NFL draft and projects as a mid- to late-first-round talent."
The Great Wes Bunting describes him as "more quick than fast" as if that were a bad thing, a rare divergence in perspective between that venerable Analyst and myself: For me, that makes Ingram all the MORE alluring a Talent, because it's the constant 5 and 10 yard Gashes ~ not the occasional High Light Reel 80 Yard Blast ~ that forges Championships.
I do NOT countenance drafting Running Backs in the 2nd Round, much less the 1st...But if you absolutely had your heart set on it...you could do one hell of a lot worse.
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