As the NFL Draft nears, we're going to have to sift through more and more potential smoke screens when trying to decipher what the Miami Dolphins might be thinking. Truth is, it's unlikely anyone in the media really knows the draft plans of GM Jeff Ireland and head coach Tony Sparano. While all teams are secretive about their draft plans, this regime is notoriously secretive about everything little detail.
So don't believe anyone who says they have "sources" or they "know" what the Dolphins will do in just over three weeks when the event finally gets underway.
It's with that preface that I present to you the weekend's big story - Mark Ingram. Did you expect anything else?
We've been focusing on Ingram for weeks now because of Miami's obvious need at running back. Considering Ingram is the top back available in the draft - and will likely be on the board when the Dolphins are on the clock with the 15th pick - it really isn't a surprise that we are spending more and more time on the guy.
It was Armando Salguero who solicited the opinions of three respected NFL personnel men (he points out all three have Super Bowl rings) for his column on Sunday. His column basically confirmed what we already know - that the Dolphins need play-makers, Ingram is indeed the best back available, and the Dolphins will try to trade out of the 15th pick.
The real news of the weekend, though, comes courtesy of CBS Sports draft analyst Rob Rang. Rang writes that "though sources throughout the league certainly recognize the Dolphins' need at running back, they'd be surprised if Miami took Ingram."
If the Dolphins have a huge need at running back and Ingram is the best back available in the draft, why would the Dolphins pass on him? Two reasons - and most of you are well aware of both already. One, there's a sudden injury concern regarding the health of Ingram's knee and possibly an arthritic condition that could be a long-term issue. And two, drafting any running back in round one that isn't an elite talent (think Adrian Peterson, for example) might be a poor draft philosophy.
Both Salguero and Rang mention the idea of "value" and getting "bang for your buck" in the first round. We've discussed this at length as well this offseason. With the league changing into more of a passing league and with more teams using a "two-back" approach, the value of the running back has declined. And when you see players like Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles, Michael Turner, and Maurice Jones-Drew rank in the top five in rushing a year ago, it's hard to disagree with the notion that spending a first-round pick on a running back is a worthwhile investment. None of those players were drafted in the draft's top 50 picks.
Many draft analysts also feel that the value at the running back position this year is in those middle rounds (rounds 2-5). I couldn't agree more. This is a deep class at the running back position. There will also be a couple of backs available in free agency that should entice this Miami front office. So why invest a top 15 pick in a running back?
That's why I'm glad to read that the Dolphins will holding some private workouts with numerous running back prospects over the next few weeks. The Miami Herald is reporting that the Dolphins will work out Mikel Leshoure, Daniel Thomas, Ryan Williams, Roy Helu, Bilal Powell, Taiwan Jones, and Mario Fannin as the team finalizes it's running backs board.