Today’s NFL is a passer’s league. Long gone are the days when the offense revolved around the workhouse running backs like the Cleveland Jim Browns of yesteryear. The early 1970’s Bills with O.J. “The Juice” Simpson, or even the Luv Ya Blue Oilers with Earl Campbell were classic examples. Today the running back position is not valued as much as it used to be, but once in awhile a special running back comes along that is worth that first round pick investment.
If the NFL Draft consisted of three special running backs and you were given the same statistical categories for each one, would you consider using your teams first round pick on a running back? We will begin with option A, who gained 3,130 yards rushing with a 5.8 yards per carry average and cashed in 35 rushing touchdowns during a three-year SEC career. Pretty nice right?
Well how about option B with 4,045 yards rushing with a 5.4 yards per carry and collecting 41 rushing touchdowns in the Big 12? Well lets also throw in option C who had 3,261 yards rushing with a 5.7 yards per carry and cashing in 42 touchdowns in the SEC. Now lets throw in one more statistic, their 40 times: option A with a 4.45-4.49, B with a 4.38-4.43 and C with a 4.47-4.53.
Based on these numbers given even though there are a lot more things to consider when investing a first round pick which one would you take and how high would you take them? Option A went third overall in 2012, B went seventh overall in 2007 and C went 28th overall in 2011. Option A placed third in his respective Heisman Trophy voting, option B placed second in his respective Heisman voting and option C brought home the Heisman Trophy.
If you haven’t figured it out already option A was Trent Richardson, B was Adrian Peterson and C was Mark Ingram. Without knowing their names most people would stare at that information and would like to see some footage to flirt with the idea at investing a first round pick if the running back happens to be special enough.
Now out of those three candidates Mark Ingram and his former backup Trent Richardson both brought home a Heisman. Most scouting reports all sound the same about Ingram but NFL.com draft scout analysis pretty much condenses all the other scouting reports “
Ingram projected as "an every-down back who can make an impact on the ground and in the passing game. One of the most polished running back prospects in recent memory.” Now the question is why don’t we hear about him? Because he was drafted by a head coach who ignores the running game like a 300-pound woman ignores cardio.
Besides the fact that a gunslinger named Drew Brees plays there, they have a notorious history for misusing Heisman -winning running backs. After a shaky stint in New Orleans, Ricky Williams was traded to the Dolphins and went on to lead the league in rushing with 1,853 yards and 4.8 yards per carry. The Saints then drafted another "Heisman winner" named Reggie Bush and in his five seasons, he never even eclipsed 600 yards rushing.
Fortunately he was also traded to the Dolphins, broke the 1,000-yard mark in his first season and is on pace to repeat. Ingram is currently used on third down situations in five games this season and has only touched the ball 37 times for 106 yards.Meanwhil, the Saints have used bubble screens to diminutove running back Darren Sproles as an alternative to standard running plays. This is a great talent who can easily be one of the top three running backs in the NFL as soon as he gets traded to any other team in the league. He is currently third on the depth chart and is only used for third down and short yardage situations. To bad every scout across the board mentions Ingram as an ‘every down back’. The Dolphins should begin prepping future draft picks for a trade package.