NFL Draft 2011: 5 Reasons Why the New England Patriots Must Pick Mark Ingram
We are two months away from the 2011 NFL Draft and, as usual, there are already several players linked to certain teams according to their value projection and the needs of every franchise.
Having two picks in the first round, the New England Patriots have a bigger list of realistic candidates to be taken on April 28th.
Wisconsin’s defensive end J.J. Watt goes to Foxboro in every two out of three mock drafts.
Cal’s defensive end Cameron Jordan, Missouri’s DE/OLB Aldon Smith and Boston College offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo are also popular picks.
And of course, there is one popular pick that will be even more popular once he ends his participation in the NFL Combine: Alabama running back Mark Ingram.
I’m sure many are going to jump to the Ingram bandwagon in New England after this Sunday, so let’s talk about some reasons to pick him.
1. He Is Too Good to Pass on
Ingram is by far the top running back prospect in this draft.
As SI.com’s Don Banks said: “He's not head-and-shoulders better than any other runner in the 2011 class, he's a whole torso better.”
Despite probably being a top-10 player, Ingram is expected to fall in the draft due to teams having more important needs to fill. With a few exceptions, the highest pick he is going in mock drafts is No.15 to the Miami Dolphins.
He is very close to being the “full package.” He breaks tackles, shows patience when needed, makes the defenders miss, has good top speed and also contributes in the passing game as a receiver and blocker.
If he is available at No.17, the Patriots have to take him.
2. New England Has Enough Picks to Fill Other Needs Later
The biggest argument against taking Ingram is that New England has other holes to cover before taking a running back.
The Patriots really need help at outside linebacker and defensive end (although Ty Warren’s return should help) and another offensive lineman would be useful in case Logan Mankins refuses to sign his franchise tender.
But Bill Belichick can address those needs with the No.28 pick and two more in the second round, including No.33.
He also has two third-round picks that he can use in a trade in case he needs to jump a few spots to secure a player he likes.
New England can find a defensive end at the end of the first round. They can get a good offensive lineman in the second round. They won’t get another Mark Ingram.
3. Prevent Miami Dolphins from Taking Him
Mark Ingram could become a big headache for the Patriots if the Dolphins take him at No.15.
He is definitely a player you don’t want to face twice a season.
Miami’s biggest need is probably running back, so this is a very likely spot for the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner.
With so many picks in their pocket, it shouldn’t be difficult for New England to find a trade partner to leapfrog the Dolphins.
According to the NFL draft pick value chart that most GMs use, their own third-round pick would be enough to jump from No.17 to the No.14 spot (and they still have the third-round they got from Minnesota for Randy Moss).
4. OLB’s Have a High Bust Rate
Many Patriots fans blame Belichick for not taking Clay Matthews when he could, but they forget that for every Clay Matthews there is a Vernon Gholston.
As most outside linebacker prospects play defensive end in college, it’s very hard for scouts and coaches to evaluate them.
Finding good outside linebackers in the draft is very difficult and Bill Belichick knows it, so he usually avoids taking them with high picks.
Getting Florida’s Jermaine Cunningham with a second-round pick was a very unusual move by the man in the hoodie.
Although there is never a 100 percent safe pick, Mark Ingram seems much more reliable than any pass rusher New England can take in this spot.
5. Tom Brady Can't Do It Alone
New England’s offense will stay as one of the best in the league for a few more seasons.
Tom Brady proved in 2010 that he is as focused as ever in football and that he will probably win one or two more MVP awards. And yes, Brady will have all his toys back and upgraded.
Wes Welker will be a year-and-a-half removed from his knee injury. Tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez had impressive rookie seasons and should improve in their second year. Brandon Tate and Taylor Price have shown promise.
But Brady is the only game-changer the Patriots have, and teams like the Jets, Browns and Ravens have proved that he can be stopped.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead are a good RB tandem, but they can't take the team on his shoulders if Brady is having a bad day.
They are good complements, not much more.
Mark Ingram could be that man who forces opposing defensive coordinators to spend extra time game-planning against the Patriots. He has the tools to win a game by himself if the passing attack is not working.
Please Bill, Take Ingram!
Mark Ingram could be the most exciting pick in New England since...
...well, to be honest, Bill Belichick usually puzzles us in the first round, so it's rare to see Patriots fans dancing in the street after hearing "the New England Patriots select".
Mark Ingram could be the man.
I rest my case. What do you think?