Position Ranking: #1
Strengths: Has a very good build and running style for the position; stout and runs low to the ground. Ingram is quick to the line of scrimmage and hits the crease without hesitancy, showing great burst to and through the line.
Very good vision, locating cutback lanes quickly on the handoff and at the second level. Shows elite anticipation of the defenders pursuit angles and quickly redirects himself to gain extra yardage; avoiding the tackler. Has the foot quickness to sidestep trash and weave through traffic. Impressive balance to tiptoe the sideline and regroup after missed tackles.
Runs through arm tackles and takes on linebackers; physical runner and pays no mind to the size of the man in front of him. Keeps his legs churning in a pile and has the lower body strength to move it. Soft hands and was a reliable outlet receiver. Willing in pass protection. Short area quickness and lateral agility is very good; can shoot away from a pile.
Needs Improvement: Though his speed is good, he lacks the top end speed to separate from the secondary and won’t be able to get to the perimeter as effectively. Played in a two-back system and looked less explosive as the game wore on. His conditioning seemed to be a factor even without a heavy workload. Hip and knee injuries sidelined him early this season.
Bottom Line: The former Heisman Trophy winner is coming off a down year compared to his previous one, but his skill set remains intact. Mark Ingram has drawn comparison to NFL great Emmit Smith, which I believe is a fair comparison when projecting his potential. Both Ingram and Smith are built very similar and run with great balance and vision.
Ingram is the more powerful runner of the two and has the potential to be a franchise running back in the same mold. He doesn’t have great speed or elite overall athletic ability, but he does everything well enough and is a physical runner that possesses phenomenal instincts, vision, and a feel for the game that many running backs simply don’t have. Durability will be his only concern. As long as he stays on the field, Ingram should have a very productive career.
Draft Projection: 1st round.