By Tom E. Curran
Heading into the NFL draft, Tom E. Curran plans a series of looks at potential Patriots draftees. Today's player: Mark Ingram.
Mark Ingram, Alabama5-9, 215Running Back
The Skinny: The highest-rated running back in this draft. Won the Heisman Trophy in 2009 when he ran for 1,658 yards. He was dinged up in 2010 but still averaged 5.5 per carry. He's compact and very solidly built. Thick. He's got elusiveness in small spaces, runs with excellent patience and finishes his runs. He's played against the highest competition, which is something the Patriots value in their evaluations. Also, he played for Bill Belichick's buddy Nick Saban, so the Patriots will get a solid review of Ingram's skills. He's not exceptionally fast but accelerates quickly to his top speed and has excellent quickness.
Gotta Have Him: The Patriots got excellent production from BenJarvus Green-Ellis in 2010 (1,008 yards) but the cupboard is nearly bare around him. Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor are both free agents and both are aged and injury prone. It will be a minor upset if the Patriots re-sign either, a stunner if they keep both. Ingram is a classic "bell cow" -- the kind of player you give the ball to 20 to 25 times a game. Yet his style is similar enough to Green-Ellis' that you could split carries and not lose rhythm with the offensive line. You need two solid running backs in today's NFL and a third-down back. Ingram would be the best back here since Corey Dillon.
Don't Need Him: The notion that teams need to build around big-ticket running backs with impressive resumes has vanished. Consider Green-Ellis. Or the NFL's leading rusher in 2010, Houston's Arian Foster. Both were undrafted. And there are many more examples of guys plucked from the bargain bin who are major contributors. Hence, would the Patriots want to spend a first-round pick on a position that can be ably filled later in the draft?
Forecast: Ingram will be there for the Patriots at 17. He could actually be there at 28 or 33, as well. Wes Bunting at National Football Post has Ingram as his seventh-rated player but doesn't have any team taking him in the first round of his mock draft. It just shows how the value of the position has dropped. The Patriots like Ingram. And his consistency, dependability and performance against top-tier competition makes it exceedingly easy to project him into the NFL. The last time the Pats took a running back in the first round it was Laurence Maroney and he didn't work out so good. But Ingram is kind of the anti-Maroney in style and resume.
Pats Draftability (1-10): 8
Tom E. Curran can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
00:43 - Rob Gronkowski says he's ready to go against the Texans. Michael Holley, Tom Giles and Kayce Smith talk about this risks of him playing while injured.
05:47 - Phil A.Perry follows up the Gronk discussion with a deeper breakdown of Gronk’s decision to play this Sunday.
10:02 - David Price appears to be easing back into baseball after pitching Friday night. Evan Drellich joins BST to talk about Price’s outing in Cincinnati.
16:12 - The BST crew recaps the Red Sox win over Reds. Drellich returns to analyze how the pitchers performed and how that will impact the Red Sox postseason stretch.
This actually won’t be the first time that Danny Amendola had to wait to follow up a strong season-opener with the Pats.
As the veteran receiver aims to return Sunday from a concussion and knee injury after leaving the Pats’ Week 1 loss early and missing Week 2 altogether, he’ll try to build a Week 1 performance that saw him lead the Pats with 100 yards on six receptions.
The stop and start is somewhat reminiscent of Amendola’s first year with New England in 2013, when he had 10 receptions for 104 yards in the season-opener. He suffered a groin injury in that game, however, and didn’t play again until Week 5. At least the wait is shorter this time around.
“I mean, there’s going to be bumps and bruises along the way, but that’s football, right?” Amendola said Friday. “But I feel really good today, feel strong, so get ready tomorrow and just continue to prepare.”
In that first game back in 2013, Amendola again led the Pats in receiving yards, but it was in a terrible offensive showing for New England. All it took was four receptions for 55 yards to be the Patriots’ best receiver in a 13-6 loss to Cincinnati in which Tom Brady had a rare scoreless game.
If Amendola can pick up where he left off in Week 1, the Pats will be in good shape. They’re also expected to have Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan ready to go, but Amendola was Tom Brady’s most reliable weapon in the Chiefs game, even though Brandin Cooks made a bigger impact with two pass interference penalties drawn in the red zone.
Not known for his durability towards the end of his time in St. Louis, this will be the fourth of Amendola’s five regular seasons in New England in which he didn’t play in all 16 games. He played the full season in 2014, 14 games in 2015 and 12 games in 2013 and 2016.
With Julian Edelman out, Brady could certainly use Amendola’s services as often as possible. That’s especially if he plays the way he did in Week 1.