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Patriots 2011 Draft Report: Mark Ingram, Alabama

2009 Heisman Winner Mark Ingram gives the Patriots a legitimate RB. (Photo by Associated Press)

Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

Height: 5-9
Weight: 215
40: 4.62
2010 stats: 875 yards, 5.5 yards-per-carry, 13 touchdowns

Overview:

There isn’t much that the 2009 Heisman Trophy Winner hasn’t accomplished in his three seasons at Tuscaloosa. By now you’re all familiar with Mark Ingram’s story, and how his dad is in prison on bank-fraud and money-laundering charges. You’ve heard of Ingram’s tough up-bringing in one of the U.S.’ worst cities — Flint, Mich. And, in most cases, you know of Ingram’s production on the field.

But, it’s what Ingram brings beyond running between the tackles that makes him the top running back in the 2011 draft. On and off the field, Ingram possess a winning attitude and leadership skills that could challenge Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow’s. Ingram wants what is best for the team, even if that means fewer touches. A good example of this is evident by Ingram’s positive attitude when Trent Richardson received an increase in carries. As a whole, Ingram is a well-rounded, college educated, individual.

Enough mushy gushy talk. On the field, Ingram is a player. Simply put. He’s strong enough to run over any defender on the field, yet elusive enough to bounce a run outside. Ingram shows promise in the receiving game and had a solid career catching passes out of the backfield. Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy relied on Ingram as a check-down on most passing attempts. In terms of blitz pick-up, Ingram must improve in the NFL, but was solid at the college ranks.

If we wanted to nitpick and point out a negative in Ingram’s game, it would be his straight line speed. Despite an initial quick burst, Ingram isn’t a burner. On numerous occasions at Alabama, Ingram got caught from behind. Ingram’s niche in the NFL will be in-between the tackles, so this shouldn’t be too much of a concern.

Patriots Outlook:

Ideally the perfect situation would be that Ingram falls to the Patriots at 17. However, Ingram to the Patriots seems so logical that the chances of it happening are probably slim. Bill Belichick shares a close relationship with Alabama head coach Nick Saban, as the Patriots have drafted four players who played under Saban since Belichick took over in 2000, so expect Belichick to be well-schooled on Ingram — and any other Alabama prospect.

Since the departure of Corey Dillon, the Patriots haven’t had that reliable running back that can take the brunt of the carries. In 2010, New England got contributions out of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, but despite their success, the need is there for a workload running back.

In the college game we see many examples of running backs who are literally exhausted when they enter the NFL. College programs ride these guys all season long and the majority of them are worn down before getting a chance at the next level. According to the NFL Player’s Association, the average length of a career for a running back is two and a half years (Note: I would cite the NFLPA’s web site, but the page doesn’t exist anymore thanks to the lockout).

Ingram strongly benefited from a great surrounding cast at Alabama. Backup running back Trent Richardson, who would have started on any other team in the country, helped share the load with Ingram carrying the ball for 112 times in 2010.

It’s safe to assume that Ingram is fresh and ready for a long, stellar NFL career. The Miami Dolphins at No. 15 looks like a possible landing spot for Ingram, but there is a good possibility that he falls to New England two picks later.

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About Matthew Marcantonio - @M_Marcantonio

Matthew Marcantonio is the Patriots and college football editor at Sports of Boston. Marcantonio has contributed for two newspapers; the Sentinel & Enterprise (Leominster, Mass) and The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La) and held internships with The Bleacher Report and Sports Illustrated.

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