NFL Draft 2011: Mark Ingram's Speed Won't Be a Problem in the NFL
Mark Ingram ran a 4.6 40-yard dash back in February.
He was able to improve it to something between 4.47 and 4.53 seconds at Alabama's Pro Day.
There are some RBs in the NFL that aren't speedsters, but are still respectable players.
Ever heard of Matt Forte, Pierre Thomas, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and Ryan Torain? They are all starting NFL RBs that run a 4.5 or 4.6 40-yard dash. Their backups all run faster 40-yard dashes than them. The exception might be Forte's backup—an older Chester Taylor in Chicago.
Some guy named Arian Foster ran a 4.69 at his Pro Day.
This is not to say speed isn't a great asset to have in the NFL.
Just ask Chris Johnson about it.
However, there are many factors besides speed that factor into a RB's game.
What good is speed if a RB doesn't have the vision to consistently take advantage of the holes his offensive linemen pave for him?
Guys like Pierre Thomas and Ryan Torain don't have the best set of burners, but they run smart. They will notice a good block and take advantage of it. Same with Arian Foster.
Power is also great, but even in the NFL, it isn't everything. Giants fans have seen multiple short yardage situations Brandon Jacobs couldn't convert because he couldn't find the hole. To compensate, he tries to muscle his way through the line.
That doesn't always work. If Jacobs sees the holes more often, he can not only avoid contact (thus reducing the risk of injury) but save more energy by not having to exert as much strength to gain those needed yards. When that Giants OL is healthy, they pave entire highways for any RB—regardless of his size.
Anyway, 40-yard dash times are good barometers of a player's speed, but too much importance is placed on it. It's overrated.
It's safe to say any football player runs faster than their 40-time may suggest when they have the pigskin in their hands and eleven grown men are trying to knock him to the ground.
Add to that: tens of thousands of fans making noise, the objective of moving the chains or breaking the goal line, and all the adrenaline that kicks in during game situations.
If a 20-ounce steak was 40 yards away from B.J. Raji, he'd probably get there in 4.4 seconds.
All jokes aside, a player may run faster in a game than they would in a drill but the difference would be minimal, unless that player clearly isn't trying in practice.
Many argue that RBs are not as valuable anymore because the NFL is more of a passing league now. While the type of RB in today's game has changed, they are still important to the offense.
When Peyton Manning made it to his first Super Bowl, he won the MVP trophy as a formality. Just because he's Peyton. He didn't do anything special in that game as the Chicago defense was all over him. The rainy weather didn't help either. But, it was the duo of Joseph Addai and Dominique Rhodes that saved the day for the Colts.
Although Aaron Rodgers was the star of last year's playoffs, would he have been able to go all the way without James Starks quietly putting together a great postseason for himself?
Starks and Arian Foster are two more examples of RBs teams can find late in drafts, or sign as an undrafted free agent. RBs are the easiest diamonds to find in the rough.
This nugget of knowledge hurts Ingram's stock more than anything else. This draft has a lot of defensive talent, so teams might think they need to stock up on defense and they can afford to get a RB in the later rounds.
However, Ingram is still the top RB in this draft without a doubt. He will be the first RB off the board.
It is highly unlikely he will fall out of the first round. Ingram would be a steal if he were to fall into the second round.
Where will Ingram end up?
There are several factors working in Mark's favor.
The first is that he's likely going in the bottom half of the first round. So, the team he'll be suiting up for won't be outright terrible. He'll be in a good position to succeed in his rookie year.
Second, RBs have the least adjustments to make entering the NFL out of all positions. He just needs to get used to more blitz pickups.
Will Mark Ingram come in and have an Adrian Peterson type of impact?
No, but he'll be a solid RB regardless.
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