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NFL Draft Analysis - RB Mark Ingram

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NFL Draft Analysis - RB Mark Ingram

Welcome to the first installment of many videos aimed at taking a closer look at the incoming rookies in 2011.

When I was a struggling screenwriter (emphasis on 'struggling') in Los Angeles, one thing which was drummed into my head was 'show me, don't tell me'.

A lot of draft analysis is us - the analysts - talking at you, the fan. But you can only hear 'stiff hips', 'my ball mentality' and 'road grader' so many times before the words lose all meaning. It's impossible to keep up with all the terms and buzzwords used every year and for many fans it can be hard to remember what they all mean.

So rather than tell you what I see, I'm going to show you.

This a work in progress but for a first effort I think it came out OK.

A few more words after the video below. By the way, not only can you comment in the comments section, but you can comment right on the timeline of the actual video as well.

So as I said, I really do like what Ingram brings to the table. He does many things well and while he does lack that break away speed you like to see in an elite back, he's got more than enough talent to play very well for a very long time in the NFL.

I do believe that in the not-impossible-but-unlikely event that Ingram is there at the end of the first that the Packers should think hard about drafting him. Running back isn't a pressing need but depending on who else is on the board, he could be exceptional value at 32.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (30) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

redlights's picture

Exceptional, but not elite. Don't hedge or anything here!

andrewgarda's picture

I guess I don't feel like I hedged.

He's an exceptional back - vision, footwork, ability to cut, great hands, deadly in space - he's got everything you want in a running back. Except breakaway speed. That keeps him from being elite. There's a difference.

Like I said in the video, it's a fine line. An elite back has it all - an exceptional back is missing a key component.

Adrian Peterson is an elite back. Reshard Mendenhall is an exceptional back. Ryan Grant is a good back.

Thanks for the feedback and watching - I'll make sure I'm super-clear when I'm splitting hairs.

packeraaron's picture

"Adrian Peterson is an elite back. Reshard Mendenhall is an exceptional back. Ryan Grant is a good back."

Perfect illustration.

PackersRS's picture

Peterson is an average back catching the ball and pass protecting. That would take away from his elite status, wouldn't it?

andrewgarda's picture

I'd debate he's average - his ypc the last two years have been good. Last year he was among the top ten in ypc. In 2009 he was top five in yards, top six in ypc (for backs with more than 20 catches).

Personally I think the Vikes take him out on 3rd way too often.

I'd have to look at his pass blocking closer really to comment on that.

ps - enjoying the debate a lot packers. :)

Norman's picture

Agreed on the analysis of Peterson, Mendenhall and Grant. Just curious, where do you put Starks? I think I would put him in the good, trending towards exceptional, but I'd need to see him play at the level he did in the playoffs for a full season to put him in the exceptional. He's shown an ability to block, albeit a bit inconsistently (as you would expect from a rookie, especially one who hadn't played in nearly two years). And most importantly, he doesn't fumble (knock on wood), unlike Peterson.

andrewgarda's picture

Yeah THAT'S my biggest concern with Starks - we just don't have enough to look at yet. I think he could be very good but it's hard to know for sure based on just a playoff run when teams weren't used to seeing him - though the Steelers had enough tape and couldn't stop him.

Blocking will come, as will all the little things. He was a bit of a steal for the Pack.

I think Ingram/Starks would be a great combo. Again, unlikely but a nice thoughts.

Cole's picture

What is grant's contract status? Does he have this year and next until he is a free agent or just this year?

andrewgarda's picture

He signed a 4 year deal back in August of 2008 and is due a roster bonus of $1 million on the '15th day of the new league year' whatever the heck THAT is.

So he's got this year and then I THINK that's it. Someone here will correct me if/when I'm wrong.

packeraaron's picture

You're correct Andrew.

andrewgarda's picture

I'm RIGHT! I'd better mark that on the calender....

cole's picture

Thanks. I guess it would be possible they would draft ingram if he slips to us.

cow42's picture

If they were to draft Ingram or another RB high (which I doubt), I would like them to resign Jackson and release Grant.

You're not going to resign Grant after this year. He'll be nearing 30 with a history of a leg injury.

Again - this is only if they were to draft a RB high. I'd rather be looking 2 years down the road at a backfield of Starks-Ingram-Jackson, than a backfield of Starks-Ingram-?.

andrewgarda's picture

Yeah I agree - I think Grant's time as a Packer may come to close for the reasons you stated and just basic cost. I think Grant will want more than the Pack will pay him.

Re-signing Jackson on the cheap isn't a bad plan either.

I also agree it's unlikely the Pack go early on a RB. The position has - across the board - been down graded as a priority b/c so many teams are RBBC. Consequently, RB doesn't go as early and frequently now as they had in years past.

So theoretically if they want to, the Pack can wait and get a quality back. The reason I would say grab Ingram is because I think he's a cut above - I wouldn't be as hot on LeShoure or Williams.

PackersRS's picture

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, Andrew. But Emmitt Smith also didn't have that second gear (4.8 40-yard dash). And I'm pretty sure he was what one would call an elite back. He had elite field vision, elite power, burst and specialy balance. All that I see in Ingram.

packeraaron's picture

He also had a monstrous, dominating offensive line.

CSS's picture

Larry Allen had a streak where, in my mind, he was the most dominant offensive lineman I've every seen. He had no peer during his apex. I don't use the 'ever' lightly, there's an awefully good group I have pretty good recall with.

PackersRS's picture

Still doesn't take away his credit. Great OL or not, he still holds every record. You don't accomplish that if you're not elite.

andrewgarda's picture

One 'criticism' Smith has faced in the Sanders/Smith debate has been 'well look at that oline! If Barry had it and smith was behind Detroit..."

He fit in that offense perfectly - I have no idea how he would have done in Detroit nor Barry in Dallas.

That line was fantastic - but Smith had fantastic vision and I'm not sure plugging in 'back A' in his place would have given the same result.

PackersRS's picture

Yeah, but I wasn't entering that debate (IMHO Sanders is the best of all time, but that's another discussion).

The fact that he's compared with such guys makes him elite.

I don't think Emmitt was one of the best backs ever, but that's not the question.

packeraaron's picture

Or if you don't play for a hundred years specifically to break records. And sign with busted franchises like the Cardinals just to do the same. Smith was an excellent back - but he was nowhere near the back Sweetness or Sanders were in my book.

PackersRS's picture

Again, I agree with all of that, but that's not the point.

Kinda hard not to be elite and be enshrined into the HoF...

andrewgarda's picture

No I'm with you - I didnt want to raise the Emmitt/Barry discussion. Both really good and completely different backs. Just saying that it's unfortunate that the criticism haunts Smith who was able to use his line in a way I don't think many could.

PackersRS's picture

I agree. A close analogy would be the ones who downgrade Starr for playing in such a good team.

BTW, as Aaron learned, I tend to get annoying in some discussions (I really like to debate), so responding to every comment might not be such a good idea. ;)

andrewgarda's picture

First of all, I am always leery of equating a 40 time with a second gear. The two aren't mutually exclusive but they aren't always totally linked either.

Now Smith had exceptional explosiveness due to some monstrously powerful legs. Ingram is strong but not that strong lower body wise. He did have a tremendous offensive line, but he fit real well behind it - his vision and general football knowledge (knowing when to cut and when to wait) made the pairing very effective. He cut incredibly well (better than Ingram has shown IMO) and made guys miss in a way I haven't seen from Ingram.

While I think Ingram has a lot of the same traits, I hesitate to say he's as good at them as Smith - that's a rough comparison to make. You could argue part of Smith's numbers was sheer longevity (15 years is rare for a RB), but he was a special back.

Could he utilize the tools he shares with Emmitt to be elite? Perhaps - but looking at the games, I hesitate to make that kind of comparison.

But just sharing them in common doesn't mean he can utilize them as well.

I will say this: Ingram does a lot of little things very well, and is a student of the game. Meaning he understands what is supposed to happen and why. That will serve him VERY well at the next level.

PackersRS's picture

I'm not saying he's as good as Emmitt.
Just, as you pointed out yourself, he has A LOT of the same tools, and that those are enough to be made elite in the right system, even without the "second gear".

Now, the difference is you don't believe he is as good in those traits as Emmitt (which I concur), and that it won't be enough to make him an elite back. That I disagree.

I take that in today's NFL, where passing is the key, Ingram has the tools to be elite, a top 5 RB. Specially if he can improve in his blocking, which is good but not great, he can be an every down back.

What makes me think that is his ability to turn the corner full speed. While he doesn't have great speed, he can go full gear on tosses, while most backs need to slow down.

So there will be nothing that this kid won't be able to do, short of hitting home runs, which seldomly occur against good defenses anyway.

He has great field vision, he can run to the outside and inside, can carry the rock, can catch passes and can block. While he's not very elusive, he can definitely make a defender miss, and more importantly, he always falls forward (McCarthism).

andrewgarda's picture

Totally understand what you're saying - I can only really go off what I see and in a vacuum, given the lack of break away speed and overall speed, I don't see him as elite.

Now I like the kid a lot so I'm happy to be proven wrong (my wife will tell you I'm used to it :) ).

And in the right system, ala Emmitt, he might really explode.

I just don't see it as a sure thing - not that it's a knock on him. There are few exceptional RBs in the league. Just even fewer elite.

PackersRS's picture

Just for the sake of it, Andrew, I'd be very interest in see how you would rank Ingram (considering his perceived ceiling being achieved) amongst today's NFL RBs?

andrewgarda's picture

Off the top of my head, assuming he's in the right situation, works hard, stays healthy, eats his vitamins, doesn't hang out with Dez Bryant and reaches his ceiling I think he's could easily be in the top ten backs in the NFL.

It's hard to compare really, because until he hits the field there is no way to know for sure. But his talent if pushed to it's fullest, could be top ten.

FWIW I consider elite backs to be about the top 3 to 5.

PackersRS's picture

As a prospect, and using ESPN's "top 10 running backs" as basis, I would put him ahead of Turner, Foster, Jackson, Charles, Mendenhall, Rice...

I would grade him the #4, behind Peterson, Johnson and MJD.

You are right that it's hard because he didn't do anything.

But as a prospect, he's a more complete back than all I've listed below him.

Maybe I'm just in love with what this kid did in 09... If the Packers take him I hope I'm right. If not, I hope I'm wrong...

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