Surely the Seahawks won’t draft a running back in round one?
The team traded for Marshawn Lynch last October, giving a fourth round pick to Buffalo. In twelve days time Lynch will be 25-years-old, still a relatively young player who should be hitting his prime. Best friend Justin Forsett has proven somewhat effective as a change of pace player and good value for a seventh round flier in 2008. The Seahawks also recently re-signed Leon Washington and Chris Henry.
That’s a stable of four running backs. There isn’t anyone you’d take in the first two rounds of a fantasy draft (and maybe later still) but in the modern NFL, the franchise running back appears to be a thing of the past.
Pete Carroll is determined to invoke the zone blocking scheme and is using the Alex Gibbs philosophy (and Tom Cable – one of his disciples) to make it happen. This isn’t a running ideology that lends itself to high priced draft picks with a belief that if the guys up front can execute, the running backs will be productive. You only have to look at the way Mike Shanahan has been able to consistently find yardage with no-name runners to see the possibilities in that system.
Last season the Seahawks’ running game was an absolute disaster zone but not because of a lack of quality at running back. Run blocking was consistently atrocious as the offensive line played musical chairs at every position except center.
Yet despite all those concerns Marshawn Lynch was able to produce a moment of magic that will forever be etched into Seahawks history.
For those reasons and probably a few more we haven’t covered, I don’t think this team will draft a running back at #25 and probably not at #57 either. It is the one position you can consistently find production from outside of the high picks and the Seahawks have too many other needs. To justify a first round pick at running back you need to be a very good team or the player has to have elite potential. Even so, the prospect of Seattle drafting a runner is something I haven’t discussed on the blog at all so for the purpose of due-diligence if nothing else let’s talk about the one reason why it’s 99% unlikely to happen, but not 100% unlikely.
3261 rushing yards at Alabama and 46 total touchdowns. Heisman Trophy and national championship winner. Technically gifted as a runner and blocker who lives and breathes the game and sounds like a Nick Saban-coached player every time he’s asked a football-related question.
Right now not many people want to talk about the positives because he ran a 4.62 at the combine, which automatically means he’s a bad football player (that was sarcasm, by the way).
I understand the concerns about a lack of elite top end speed when he breaks into the open field, but everything else about Ingram’s game makes me believe he has a shot to be a star in the NFL. He is the ultimate competitor who finishes every run like it’s his last. The amazing thing is he plays with that level of intensity from the first snap of the game until the last. He always moves forward, sometimes with several defenders hanging on for the ride.
His vision and field awareness is unmatched from any running back I’ve watched. Any concerns raised about his straight line speed is answered by his lightning quick instincts and ability to execute. As soon as he sees that opening, he’ll put his foot in the ground to make the cut and explode. He’s shifty as you’d expect given his size and makes defenders miss regularly, which is almost as impressive as the number of tackles he’ll break in a single game.
He isn’t going to run like Marshawn Lynch and he doesn’t carry that same amount of power. He doesn’t need to, because he’s much more agile and more of an all-rounder. The icing on the cake is his ball security, which you can tell is an aspect Ingram prides himself on.
I’ve projected him as late as Green Bay at #32 and as early as Detroit at #13. One team in between that range is going to have Mark Ingram at the top of their board and they are going to pull the trigger.
So the question comes down to this – is there no possible scenario where Ingram is clearly the best player available at #25 and the Seahawks end up drafting him?
I want to say it can’t happen but then I remember the 2009 Heisman season, the ankle-breaking run against Arkansas or the big run against South Carolina. Given all of Seattle’s needs elsewhere, given their problems on the offensive line and the stable of backs they currently have – is their just no way Ingram finds a home in the North West?
Pete Carroll wants to run the football and I think he expects to do so without needing a star running back. Even with two first round picks last year, I understand C.J. Spiller was never in contention to be drafted by Seattle. It remains to be seen if that was due to a negative opinion of Spiller or a philosophy on the draft value of the position.
Would it be such an impossibility for the Seahawks to address the offensive line during free agency (whenever it happens) or later in the draft to cater for a back like Ingram much later than Spiller would’ve been drafted? Can they engineer a running game without necessarily bringing in the big-time quarterback to open up the field?
If Ingram has that potential to be special as I suspect, you have to weigh up whether other players at different positions can have the same impact. It’s the ultimate ‘BPA at all costs’ pick if you end up taking him just because he’s top of the board. It may also be worth mentioning how highly I graded Knowshon Moreno – who has a similar all-round ability and ran a 4.55 at his combine. Moreno hasn’t cracked 1000 rushing yards in a season despite costing Denver the 12th overall pick.
Personally I love the idea of Mark Ingram rushing in a Seahawks uniform, yet at the same time I feel disappointment. Seattle has the #25 pick and who knows – maybe a guy with that much ability could be available? If only that quarterback was in place, drafted a couple of years ago and now fully prepared and ready to take over the starting role? If only the Seahawks had hit on a couple of those first round picks on defense? You could focus your energy on a pick like Mark Ingram and a full repair of the running game and feel completely satisfied.
Instead the Seahawks are staring at a recurring need at QB that has gone on for far too long. The defense has one or two young players that can hopefully stick around and be of value, but there’s not enough talent. The offensive line needs further work despite spending a top-ten pick on Russell Okung.
Bringing in Ingram could be the ultimate waste of a first round pick and a first class talent without the other fundamentals in place. At a time when the position’s value is at an all time low, you struggle to justify that pick in any shape or form.
Carroll regularly let 5-star USC recruits battle for playing time at the running back position, but he could afford to knowing the rest of the team was top-heavy with talent. That isn’t the case in his latest gig.
There could be at least one scenario that projects the Seahawks investing their faith in a talent like Mark Ingram, but it would have to be so refined. As I’ve stated from the start, I don’t think it’ll happen and as much as I like Ingram I’m not sure it should happen. Yet as with many other possible storylines emanating from a 7-9 team owning the #25 pick – you just can’t rule it out.
Mark Ingram highlights (2009)