If you’ve been looking for more lockout talk or finger pointing as to whose fault it is that the 2011 NFL season is in jeopardy, you’re not going to find it here. The major news outlets do an adequate enough job at detailing how the talks, or lack thereof, between the players and owners are coming along.
Here at Phins Phocus, I’m going to keep things relevant to the Dolphins, and in particular their player personnel. And since this whole lockout mess has prevented free agency from taking place this March, posting has been rather slow around these parts.
But fear not, with spring now officially here, it’s time to jumpstart our 2011 NFL Draft coverage. We’ve already delved into quarterback prospects like Cam Newton and Jake Locker, with other options like Mallet, Ponder, and Kaepernick on the way, but now it’s time to unveil our first Dolphins’ draft board.
I will compose an overall big board as draft time gets a little closer, but until then, I will be looking at each position that could be considered a need for the Dolphins this offseason. Let’s start with running back, a position that is virtually guaranteed to be addressed in the draft next month, with Ronnie and Ricky likely to sign elsewhere and the uncertainty of having free agency after the draft looming.
1. Mark Ingram
Size: 5-10, 215
Projected Round: 1
It seems as though everyone and their mothers have Mark Ingram going to the Dolphins in their mock drafts. It just appears to be the perfect match. The Dolphins, with the contracts of Ronnie and Ricky expiring, are in desperate need of a running back or two. And Ingram is the consensus highest rated back in the draft. However, when you talk to Dolphins fans, most would prefer the front office to select a quarterback or even an interior lineman, than to use a first round pick on Ingram. Reason being, taking a running back that high just isn’t a great value pick anymore with the position’s shelf life dwindling. It’s also fairly easy to find a quality starter later in the draft, as long as you have a quality O-line in front of him.
Having said that, though, if the Dolphins are able to trade down like many expect them to, Ingram would be very tempting if he’s still on the board later in the 1st round. Some were disappointed with Ingram’s 40 time at the combine, but more importantly, he has a fairly quick first step and doesn’t take long to hit top speed. He obviously fits the mold for the type of runner Sparano has liked to employ in the past, as a big, thick, low pad level runner who has great balance and lower body strength. He’s one of the few backs in this year’s class that could carry the load all by himself, but would especially be effective paired with a scat back like a Darren Sproles in free agency or a Noel Devine late in the draft.