The latest buzz making the circuit on the internet is the stock drop of Alabama running back Mark Ingram. Ingram\’s drop reportedly is because of the long-term stability of Ingram’s knee and the fear that he may develop degenerative arthritis. The former Heisman Trophy winner underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee late last August after injuring it in practice. Ingram missed just two games following the surgery and went on to rush for 875 yards on 158 carries for the Crimson Tide. He also chipped in 21 catches for another 282 yards and scored 14 touchdowns in the process.
Another red flag on Ingram is the news today by Adam Schefter that Ingram has switched agents and has now hired Joel Segal to represent him. This could be perceived as a move to get better representation to help brush the knee issue to the side prior to the draft. Had Ingram switched representation right after the NFL Combine, it likely wouldn\’t have been such a big deal as it is closer to draft day.
So how does this now involve the Steelers? The Ingram drop, if it continues, could mean that he drops all the way down to the bottom of round one where the Steelers are scheduled to pick 31st overall. Two weeks ago Ingram looked poised to easily be drafted no later than 20th overall as he was considered the top running back in the draft, albeit one not loaded with running back talent. Even before his slide started down the board the Steelers look like they are poised to draft a running back later in the draft to compete with 2010 draft pick Jonathan Dwyer. According to reports, the Steelers appear to be interested in Da\’rel Scott, Taiwan Jones, Noel Devine and local Pitt product Dion Jones. Scott and Jones have made their pre draft visits to Pittsburgh already and Jones is reportedly scheduled to visit if he hasn\’t already.
As far as the Steelers running back position goes, starting running back Rashard Mendenhall had a productive 2010 season and is under contract through the 2012 and hasn\’t shown any signs that the work load has had an affect on him. Change of pace back Mewelde Moore is an unrestricted free agent and might not be re-signed. Isaac Redman really turned the corner in 2010 and appears to now be a well rounded running back although he received very limited touches in 2010. Dwyer has looked great carrying the ball late in preseason and on his few carries he received against the Browns in week 17, but his in-game recognition and blitz pick-up needs drastic improvement. The position could use some depth and competition at the bottom of the depth chart, but isn’t really what I would call a position of need, especially not early in the draft.
I mentioned position value yesterday in my article on Kevin Colbert as it relates to his first round draft picks since taking over in 2000 and even included a few names of some players that might be enticing to Colbert late in this year’s draft. I did not mention Ingram in the article as I really have not paid that much attention to the Ingram slide until today. There are already a few updated mock drafts floating around that have the Steelers selecting Ingram at 31. Assuming the knee checks out, it is hard to argue about the positional value Ingram offers in relation to the running back position. The question then would be would Colbert himself even consider drafting another running back in round 1 this soon, when the position isn\’t really regarded as a strong need? Then again if Ingram\’s knee checks out fine prior to the draft, Colbert and the Steelers brass surely would not be the only ones to know.
I have mentioned before that there is a point on a graph somewhere where value meets need in relation to drafting a player, especially in the first round of the draft. You also have to take into account risk where there are medical concerns as such is the case with Ingram. The Steelers need to address the cornerback and tackle position during the first 3 or 4 rounds of the draft and the defensive line depth could certainly use some attention as well. Colbert loves value, but usually has somewhat of a need when drafting a player in round 1. In this case I am just not seeing it, especially with the red flags associated with the said value of Ingram. If those red flags are real, you really aren\’t getting the value though. It is the chicken or the egg question of drafting I suppose.
Two weeks from tonight I am willing to bet Ingram is off the board when the Steelers pick and if not, they should let the Packers worry about the value of Ingram as it relates to need. Should Ingram go on to have an All-Pro career, the decision to pass him up will always be second guessed. I think Colbert and Company are fine with that and so am I. I do not think Ingram will be drafted by the Steelers no matter how far he slides.