I will be assuming a lot in this column. I will be assuming that Andrew Luck, quarterback for the Stanford Cardinal, will be turning pro. I will be assuming that Mark Ingram, running back for the Alabama Crimson Tide, will be turning pro, and I am assuming that the draft order will remain the same between now and the 2011 NFL draft.
All of these and/or none of these assumptions may occur. I believe that Luck and Ingram will turn pro, but I also believe that the draft order will undergo significant changes prior to the first pick taking place. But let’s stick with the order as it is today.
The Washington Redskins need several things. They are a team in transition. Team owner Daniel Snyder needs to open his checkbook for a new quarterback (Rex Grossman is a band-aid at best that needs to be ripped off as quickly as possible). But which quarterback will fall that far in this year’s draft?
Andrew Luck will certainly not. Cam Newton might, but I seriously doubt it. However, Ryan Mallett of Arkansas, a pseudo dark horse, and Jake Locker could be there for the Redskins to make their selection interesting.
Clinton Portis is finished in the NFL and thus a solid, proven bruiser needs to be lined up behind the QB to make defenses respect the run and open the passing game. The Redskins have young, speedy, talented wide receivers and tight ends (Santana Moss is all of those things still, except possibly the “young” part).
It is for these reasons that I argue Mark Ingram should be the Redskins first-round draft pick over a QB, and here is why I think they have a shot at him.
The Carolina Panthers have the first pick, and if my assumption is correct, Andrew Luck will be off the board immediately.
Sorry Jimmy Clausen, but you had your moment to shine, and you were not very polished. I will agree that your woes were not completely your fault. The team around you needs major help too.
However, you were never an NFL starting quarterback. You were at best a good starting quarterback for the once great Fighting Irish. And “good” in college very rarely translates to good, let alone a starting position, in the NFL. Tom Brady is the exception, not the rule.
Carolina took their chance, but now it is time for them to secure their future. Luck will be off the board immediately.
That’s one quarterback down, leaving Newton, Mallett and Locker. All running backs are still available.
The Denver Broncos have the second pick in the draft, but they already have their franchise quarterback. Tim Tebow is their future, and I believe he will be one of the better NFL QBs in the years to come, especially with John Elway on board. He may have an office job, but I guarantee you he has Tebow’s ear and is mentoring him constantly.
I know that Clausen was the Panthers Tebow, but his upside just doesn’t compare, and that is why I can say that the Panthers should cut ties and draft Luck, while the Broncos should sit tight and start Tebow.
With a starting running back like Knowshon Moreno sitting behind Timmy (who doubles as a running back himself), the Broncos have more pressing problems than those two skill positions right now. That is why they will not be drafting Mark Ingram with the second pick.
With the third pick, the Buffalo Bills may take a QB. They are in need of so much, and with Cam Newton, Ryan Mallett and Jake Locker on the board, it will be difficult to pass on one of them. I would take Mallett in this spot, but unfortunately, the Bills do not pay me to make their draft decisions.
Drafting fourth this year would be the always entertaining and equally disappointing Cincinnati Bengals. Carson Palmer is not going anywhere, and with Cedric Benson starting and Bernard Scott being the young up-and-coming starter-to-be at running back, the Bengals have more pressing problems than to take Mark Ingram off the board.
The Arizona Cardinals have problems all over the place, and quarterback is one of them. If Cam Newton is still available, they may snatch him up and throw him to the wolves next year. While I am not so sure that is the move they are going to make, let’s assume it is.
Newton is now off the board, leaving Jake Locker as my top remaining QB.
Next up is the Cleveland Browns. All signs point to Cleveland taking a defensive lineman to shore up those gaping running lanes. Plus I think with all the problems the Browns could address with this pick, they will take the best available player on the board. At this point, that is not Jake Locker or Mark Ingram.
San Francisco has the next pick, and they need a quarterback. Is Jake Locker the answer? I know I am assuming that the draft order stays the same for purposes of this column, but what if Jim Harbaugh takes over coaching duties in San Fran? I’d argue it would be a done deal that the Niners would have traded up to get the No. 1 pick and that they would take Andrew Luck. If, however, they stay with No. 7, I can see Locker going off the board here.
All of my top quarterbacks have been selected at this point.
The Titans are not going to go through another season with Vince Young at the helm. He has dug his own NFL grave, so if by chance a quality QB is available this far down, then the Titans very well may snatch him. They certainly do not need a running back with Chris Johnson carrying the load, so Mark Ingram is in no danger of being drafted here.
And that leaves us with the Washington Redskins and the 10th pick of the NFL draft.
The Redskins have a great defense on paper, and I believe a solid defense on the field. Barring a few injuries (Laron Landry in particular) and some disgruntled attitudes (Albert Haynesworth), the Redskins don’t need to make defense their top priority.
The QB and RB spots need help, and with no quality quarterbacks left to draft, the Redskins will take Mark Ingram off the board. The kid is a true talent. He has a nose for the end zone, and with running back guru Mike Shanahan as his coach, Ingram will perfect that point-scoring sense of smell. Plus with a quarterback like Rex Grossman under center, a powerful running back is a necessity.
Currently, the Redskins have Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams taking handoffs. Both have potential, and Shanahan can make them better, but neither has the upside of Mark Ingram. I see Ingram carrying the load for the Redskins with Torain being the Marion Barber-type who punches the ball in from inside the 5-yard line. Williams has some upside as well, and I think he will become a great third-down back in the vein of Mike Sellers.
Now I have read many columns where a lot of people feel that Cam Newton will fall to the Redskins with the 10th pick. I obviously don’t believe this to be the case, but if in fact that happens, Washington will have a very interesting decision to make.
Newton is definitely a talent. Which way would you vote, Newton or Ingram? I will say, however, that even if Mallett or Locker happen to still be available when the Redskins come calling, I would still take Mark Ingram.
Mark Ingram, Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams will provide a solid, young backfield for years to come on a team that seems to be constantly rebuilding. Maybe this will end that cycle, at least for this one important position.
Who you think the Redskins should take? Let me know with your comments.