Would it be a complete shock to anyone if two of the three current New York Giants running backs -- Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and D.J. Ware -- are not back in 2011? Maybe even all three, though I think the Giants should at least hang onto Bradshaw -- and hope he can learn to hang on to the ball.
That said, let's look at the one running back anyone studying the draft seems to agree will go in the first round this April. That would be Alabama junior Mark Ingram. The son of former Giant wide receiver Mark Ingram is not a home run threat as a back, more of a hard-nosed get the tough yards kind of runner. One thing to love, especially after watching the Giants turn the ball over 41 times in 2010, is that Ingram did no fumbles in 572 collegiate carries. Question for me with Ingram is, if he isn't a big-play difference-maker is he really worth a first-round pick? The Giants have a ton of ways they can go with this pick and I am not usually a fan of taking running backs in the first round. Should Ingram be an exception to that rule if he is available? I don't know.
Anyway, on to the scouting reports.
RB, Alabama (Jr.)
5-foot-10, 215 pounds
Projection: 1st round
From Sideline Scouting:
Positives: Has a great frame and solid bulk... Has enough athletic ability to be effective, can turn the corner... Very good ball security, rarely fumbles... Keeps the ball close to his body... Incredible balance, runs similar to Emmitt Smith... Runs with great pad level, very low and defenders rarely get a good shot on him... Compact runner, bounces off tackles... Game translates well to the NFL... Never stops moving his legs, gets an amazing amount of yards after contact... Had 1,075 yards after contact in 2009, over 50 percent of his total yardage... Very good at reading the hole and waiting for his blockers... Solid cut-back runner... Displays good hands out of the backfield, had 53 receptions over the past two years... Played against top level competition at Alabama... Plays up to challenges, averaged nearly 150 yards per game against seven defenses ranked in the nation's top 30 for total defense in 2009, two of his three best games in 2010 were against Arkansas and LSU.
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, missed two games in 2010 with a knee injury... Numbers took a huge dive this year, went from 1,658 yards in 2009 to 875 in 2010... Will not contribute at all on special teams... Doesn't have much for open field moves, absorbs a lot of hits... Has taken a beating over the past three years... Some feel he's not even the best running back on his own team.
From Footballs Future:
His ability to be a feature back, carry the ball between the tackles, and pick up tough yardage make him a very good fit for an offense looking for ball control out of their running game. Ingram will pick up consistent yardage and fight for extra yardage at the end of his runs. He has quick enough feet and decent enough speed to hit the corner, but he is not going to run away from defenders very often. That lack of standout explosion is the main reason he will not hear his name called in the first half of the first frame. Ingram’s production and talent should get him taken in the last half of the first round at some point.