Why Mark Ingram might fit for Seattle

Alabama running back Mark Ingram will be a star in the NFL

The Seahawks have many issues at the moment as the rebuild continues under Pete Carroll. Clearly the team is in need of someone capable of rushing the passer consistently and effectively. Whilst the Seahawks have found production from their young group of receivers, do they still lack that #1 guy that can scare teams into greater coverage? Do they need more in the secondary? And perhaps more than anything – can they answer the question about the long term future at quarterback?

Having said that, the first round of the draft isn’t the only way or necessarily the easiest way to fill those holes. I wrote at the end of August about how difficult it has been in recent years to find effective pass rushers in the first round. This year’s group of big name quarterbacks have flattered to deceive and you have to ask whether the Seahawks could trust their long term success in the hands of Locker, Luck or Mallett in round one. When I watch the Seahawks’ offense I still think it lacks an identity. Of course there’s the recognisable presence of Matt Hasselbeck, but at 35-years of age he’s more game-manager than game-winner these days. There’s promise amongst the young receivers, but not a dominant playmaker. Like most teams it’s a running back committee, yet none of the backs have stood out in a struggling run game.

Finding one guy to hang your hat on would, for me, be of tremendous benefit for the Seahawks. Mark Ingram (RB, Alabama) could be that guy.

Of course it’s not the en vogue suggestion these days is it? People often don’t want to discuss drafting a running back early. The feeling is that backs can be found later on and that the days of one franchise runner carrying the load are in the past. None of that is false. Why I want to argue the case for going against this though is my belief that Ingram is capable of lifting a team so much from day one that it’d potentially give the Seahawks an identity as soon as the pick was called.

He may have the complete package. He’s a thick-set guy with ideal size (5’10”, 215lbs) who owns the kind of one-cut ability needed to thrive in a ZBS. He’s got great vision and patience and consistently sets up his blocks better than a lot of guys in the NFL. He’ll run over you or around you – it’s a great no-nonsense style and determination to get the job done which is emphasised by how difficult he is to bring down. Watch Ingram after the initial contact – even on a good solid tackle he’ll make an extra buck or two. He’s got a tremendous stiff arm and hand punch to keep away defenders, not to mention the perfect balance even when he’s knocked off track. Ball security – one fumble in his career so far. That’s it. Need him to pass protect? You get the sense he enjoys it (almost) as much as he does running for a big play downfield. Does he have elite speed? No. He isn’t Chris Johnson in that aspect. Still, he’s plenty fast enough and shows quick acceleration to burst through an opening and kicks through the gears quickly. His top end speed isn’t CJ2k, but his burst should secure a solid time at the combine next year over 40-yards.

In two games this year against Duke and Arkansas, he has 308 yards and four touchdowns. This follows his Heisman winning season last year when he recorded 1658 rushing yards and 17 TD’s, accompanying three further scores in the passing game.

My only concern coming into this year was whether the physical style might lead to injuries – and he missed the first two games this year with a knock. I guess that will happen. Knowshon Moreno had a physical style at Georgia but never so much as left the field after a hard hit. He comes into the NFL and has issues galore. It’s the risk you take when drafting a running back, but it’s important to remember one of the knocks on Adrian Peterson was his durability and he’s had barely any issues at the next level.

Drafting Mark Ingram won’t solve Seattle’s pass rush problems, it won’t secure the quarterback of the future. What it does secure is someone to build around on offense the same way Minnesota built around AP. The Seahawks can’t go out and sign Steve Hutchinson at guard, but if they continue to improve the offensive line (and it’s been a vast improvement so far, even without Russell Okung) there’s no reason why Ingram can’t come into the league and have the same impact as Peterson. He might be that good. Is it a luxury? Some would say yes. I would say no – because whilst like anyone else you’d love to see questions answered elsewhere first, sometimes a guy is too good at his position to ignore. Running back might be a more neglected position these days, but Ingram is going to be a star. That warrants consideration.

Other notes

Akeem Ayers (DE/OLB, UCLA) was at his dominant best this weekend as the Bruins stunned Texas. He had a sack, forced fumble and an interception on the day. I’ve written about him a lot on this blog, but he’s one to watch. He can play the LEO position in Seattle and he’s just a fantastic playmaker. He can rush off the edge with his hand in the dirt and he can drop back and cover. He’s the kind of guy you bring in and spend days working out packages to maximise his talent.

Ryan Kerrigan (DE, Purdue) might be starting to demand greater respect. He was given a third-round grade by the draft committee last year and returned to Purdue. It’s important to remember that Aaron Curry was given the same grade once, returned to Wake Forest and ended up being a top five pick. Kerrigan may not go that far up the boards, but he’s drawn strong comparisons to Chris Long (2nd overall, 2008) and has five sacks in four games, including two more this weekend against Toledo. He’s a relentless pass rusher off the edge who some believe can be a 10-sack a year guy in the NFL.

Patrick Peterson (CB, LSU) had another big punt return touchdown this weekend against West Virginia. Aside from being virtually a lockdown corner so far this year, he’s registered over 500 return yards and two interceptions. He’s big (6’1″, 221lbs) fast and athletic and will set the combine on fire next year. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s a lock for the top ten next April.


  1. diehard82

    Rob, I think an identity happens naturally. It’s not something you can create. I don’t think drafting Ingram will create an identity. Strong running game? Not necessarily. Moreover, Carroll employed running back by committee at USC, and seems committed to it still. Doesn’t mean he wouldn’t draft Ingram, but I doubt it. I think it’s more likely they keep aquiring playmakers of all types with plan to spread out the touches. A big back who can catch out of the backfield like Stanley Havili, and who should be available in the 3rd round, makes more sense to me given all the other glaring needs like pass rush, QB, DB and true #1WR (not sold on Mike Williams yet). Provided they can get and stay healthy, the O-line surprisingly is one area where we may not need much attention during the draft. If we are drafting 21, and Ingram falls to us and is the best player on the board, by all means take him. Because he’s the best player, not to create an identity.

  2. Rob

    Clearly Carroll has used a committee and appears to want to continue with that. I appreciate that as a projection, it may be unlikely. But the point here wasn’t to suggest it really could happen, rather ponder whether it should. I do think an offense can find an identity by drafting one talented individual – Minnesota and AP being a prime example. I think Ingram will be a star in the NFL.

  3. 1sthill

    The Seahawks have neglected the RB postion more than any other team in the NFL. The last time we used a 5th round pick or higher a RB was 1992 (Maurice Morris), not inculding FB’s. I am one of those who thinks RB’s can be had later in the draft, but if we were sitting at say the 15th pick in the 1st round then I would be happy to get Ingram if he were still available.

    diehard82, I agree that our o-line might be supprisingly good next year with everyone healthy. I thought Stacey Andrews looked really good last week at RG, although he had one offsides penalty.

    A guy to keep an eye on for the Seahawks is IIlinois RB Mikel Leshoure. He is 6ft 0in 230 lbs, runs with good pad level, good vision, quick feet for a big guy, good acceleration, and he gets a lot of yards after contact. He might be a guy we could target in the 2nd round.

  4. 1sthill

    Rob, are there any pass rushing DE that you have seen that are worth keeping an eye on other than Ayers?

    I like your thought of taking UCLA LB Akeem Ayers and sticking him as the LEO. UCLA played a similar defense, agianst Stanford, that the Seahawks run (4-3 over defense), and Ayers looked good as the SAM LB (Aaron Curry’s positon on our team).

    I watched Ryan Kerrigan when Purdue played Ball St and he looks like a good player but not a good fit for the Seahawks. He just does not have a quick first step nor does he look like he can bend/dip to get around OT. He looks like a strong side DE in the NFL, really solid aginst the run & good motor. The LEO position needs to be a guy with an explosive first step.

    TCU DE Wayne Daniels is a player who looked like a stud in week 1, but week 2 not so much (might have been he was going against a running QB & wanted to keep contain).

    • Rob

      There are limited options if I’m being honest. I haven’t seen a lot of good pass rushers, nobody has really stood out the way Derrick Morgan and Jason Pierre-Paul did last year. Keep an eye on Jeremy Beal from Oklahoma – he’d fit the LEO mould and already has 4.5 sacks this year. Daniels is a good shout.

  5. trrrroy

    I would actually love this. If you don’t like the QB or Pass rushing options in the first round, go for a playmaker, someone that defenses have to think about. That is something this team has lacked since the Alexander days.

    That being said, I do think that a qb or legit pass rusher is a bigger (slightly) need. I know you aren’t in love with the talent in the first round, but what about later? Are there QB’s that can be had after round one that you have your eyes on? How about pass rushers?

    • Rob

      Christian Ponder looks like a second or third round pick to me. That’s the range you start to consider him, although I’m not convinced he’ll ever be more than a career backup. Pat Devlin is someone that gets talked about a lot as a possible mid-round pick at QB, although it’s unlikely I’ll get a chance to watch him with Delaware almost certainly not appearing on the TV schedule this year. I have Nick Foles and Blaine Gabbert as later picks that I want to do more work on. The one that maybe interests me the most in the mid-round range is Jerrod Johnson at Texas A&M. He really stood out against Texas last year and at one point I wondered if we were looking at a potential R1 pick. However, I went back and watched two more A&M games and noticed a lot of mechanical flaws and wild inconsistency. The potential is there and he’d fit the scheme (good deep ball, mobility) but certainly only as a mid-round selection at best and more likely a later round guy.

      Pass rush options not great and difficult to pick out potential 5-7 round guys this early. Jeremy Beal looks like a guy who could go in rounds 2-4 and I like his potential to play the LEO position. He’s had a good start at Oklahoma. Keep an eye on him against Texas this weekend.

      I’d also agree Troy that QB/DE is more important than RB (clearly), but you make a good point that finding a legit playmaker on offense who can step in on day one is crucial too if those holes cant be filled. Seattle is struggling to sustain drives… a playmaker/workhorse with huge star potential like Ingram instantly upgrades the offense.

  6. Trrrroy

    Thanks for the reply. I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on Gabbert. He’s been a guy that’s intrigued me for a while, and seems to have the size and tools that the Hawks are looking for.

    • Rob

      I’ve not had a chance to watch Missouri yet in full – I’ve only seen bits of his performance againsy Nevada. If they’re on the schedule soon I’ll do a report or see if I can’t find some tape.

  7. Matt

    Looks like we are playing our way out of the top 15 picks this year. That said, it puts us in that range where you wouldn’t be considered reaching for guys like Akeem Ayers, a big WR (Jones, Baldwin), or even a guy like RB Ryan Williams, who could really jump start the running game. Anyway we go, I think we can expect a “playmaker” with that mid first round pick. What position that may be, just depends who might be available. Sadly, after Ingram and Williams, I see a pretty big drop off at RB. I like Daniel Thomas, but he just scares me for some reason. Not real sudden, a little too tall/long for an RB.

    • Rob

      It’ll certianly be a good year, IMO, to be drafting later unless we do want to spend a very high pick on the skill positions (which wouldn’t be an issue for me, but a lot of fans not keen on WR or RB very early).

      Interesting thoughts on Thomas, Matt. I’ve seen him once vs UCLA and he had a big day, but hopefully I’ll see more and be in position to form an opinion on him. Ryan Williams is someone I liked a lot last year but he’s stuttered (like VT) to start and missed time now with a hamstring injury. His stock is down right now, he needs to get healthy and produce. Tough to see him in R1 if he cant, but he’s talented.

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