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The Saturday Debate: Is a first round running back a good idea?

Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are both free agents. So it's well known that the Miami Dolphins have an obvious need at the running back position this offseason. Because of that, many draft "experts" out there are linking the top running back April's NFL Draft - Alabama's Mark Ingram - to the Dolphins in the first round. On the surface, it's a logical fit. And some would think that landing the top back available in the draft - a former Heisman Trophy winner - with the 15th overall pick would be a "touchdown" for a franchise in need of a new starting running back.

Mel Kiper, Don Banks, and many others in the "mock draft" business have been connecting the obvious dots in their very early NFL mock drafts, linking the Dolphins to Ingram. Many compare Ingram to former Cowboys great Emmitt Smith in terms of running style - and the comparison seems quite accurate.

But I can't say I'm as sold as most on the idea of taking Ingram - or any running back, for that matter, in the first round of the NFL Draft. There are a few reasons I feel this way:

  • I always believed Emmitt was partly a product of an outstanding offensive line. Like Smith, Ingram doesn't have elite speed - something Miami's offense desperately needs. And considering how poor the Dolphins' offensive line was a year ago run blocking, I worry that Ingram would not have the kind of impact on this offense that many assume he will have.
  • There are many options the Dolphins could turn to in free agency to fill the void in their backfield without spending a first round pick on a position with such a short shelf life. Guys like DeAngelo Williams, Michael Bush, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Pierre Thomas just to name a few. Of course, we don't know when free agency might even begin since we must first wait for a new CBA.
  • You can find quality running backs in the mid and late rounds of the draft. Just look at the top ten in the NFL in rushing this past season. Only four were first round picks. And none of the top three were drafted earlier than the third round. Also consider some of the recent first round running backs. Guys like Knowshon Moreno, Donald Brown, Beanie Wells, Felix Jones, Marshawn Lynch, and Laurence Maroney (just to name a few). Not exactly a list of guys with accomplished careers.

So the question I pose to you all this weekend - do you think it's a good idea for the Dolphins to draft a running back in the first round this year?