Go back three years to the 2008 NFL draft when the Miami Dolphins had the first overall pick. The Fins chose OT Jake Long out of Michigan, a superb investment beyond his years. Multiple pro-bowls later, there isn’t any doubt he wasn’t the right pick. The option to choose a franchise offensive lineman over perhaps, a quarterback like Matt Ryan, who was on the Dolphins radar, is an argument all in itself. Although Ryan has achieved success in Atlanta, Long has proved that he is worth his weight in gold. History will repeat itself this 2011 NFL draft when the Dolphins select running back Mark Ingram out of Alabama as their first round pick rather than a quarterback.
The Dolphins hold the 15th overall pick in the draft and because of that, their much needed and coveted quarterback draft pick will most likely need to wait till the third round. First round worthy QB’s Blaine Gabbert and on the fence, Cam Newton are likely to be picked up early. Although Ryan Mallet is worth a first round pick, he is not worth the Dolphins 15th slot and thus falls to the tail end of the first round. The Dolphins could trade their 15th pick down to the Seattle Seahawks for the 25th overall pick and a second round pick. That would ensure them Mallet and a decent running back in the second round. However, that scenario seems rather erratic for the Dolphins taste.
Since both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are sure to be gone next season, the Dolphins will likely draft Ingram. There’s a desperate need for a running back and a revival of the once prolific running game in Miami. He’s the highest rated RB coming out of the draft and the fact that he might drop as far as 15th means the Dolphins would be stupid to pass on him, no matter what their QB needs are.
Ingram boats similar qualities to that of Brown with a comparable body type. But remember, this is a three-back league. He would have to come into a support system of backs. He would rotate well with, perhaps a veteran offseason pick and Lex Hillard or Lousaka Polite. Mel Kiper has described him as an Emmitt Smith type of back for many different reasons. If Ingram drops late in the first round it’s because he lacks game breaking speed, as did Smith. Ingram is also coming out of a similar college system, as Alabama is in the SEC. Smith came out of Florida. Remember too that Smith was overlooked early in the draft and fell to the 17th slot where the Dallas Cowboys traded up to get him.
What Ingram does have is great balance and great vision, which gives him patience in the backfield. He also gets those extra yards after contact, something the Dolphins greatly looked for in Brandon Marshall. That would be enormous, especially if the offensive line continues to block as they did this past season. Other than that, he’s a great kid and a hard worker, who is eager to learn and determined. Can’t ask for much more from a rookie.
This offseason for the Dolphins is imperative for the coaches and the overall future of the organization, regardless of a NFL lockout. Productive offensive pieces need to be put in place. That means a quarterback or two, a running game, a stone on the offensive line and a speedy receiver in that sequential order. With the way the draft board looks now, it makes more sense for the Dolphins to wait on drafting a QB than drafting a mediocre, possible bust, in the first round. Take what’s worth the pick. Miami needs a spark for their running game anyway.