Monday, April 25, 2011

Intriguing draft scenario: Ingram available for Packers?

Draft week is upon us, so we can once again begin an almost daily geek-out up to Thursday's first round. OK, let's be honest, through the entire weekend of the remaining rounds, as well.

So, let's begin with an interesting scenario constructed by Pat Kirwan of As most mock draft followers are probably aware, many scenarios have the Packers either picking DT Cameron Heyward from Ohio State, or LB Akeem Ayers of UCLA. Some have the Packers reaching a bit (my opinion) for OT Derek Sherrod of Mississippi State or OLB Brooks Reed from Arizona. Kirwan, however, suggests the possibility that Alabama RB and 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram might be available to the Packers when their pick comes up at number 32. That would be a gift on the order of Aaron Rodgers falling into the Pack's lap back in the 2005 draft. Back then, the Packers sure weren't looking to take a quarterback that high; Ol' #4 was still running the show quite well, after all. But how could you pass up a deal like Rodgers at #24? You couldn't. And thankfully, the Packers didn't. Imagine, then, a similar situation in which the top running back in the draft falls to the end of the first round. Not knowing how well Ryan Grant will come back from his injury, or whether James Starks is the real deal or not, the Packers could certainly use a running back of Ingram's stature. Ingram might just be too good to pass up if he's sitting there.

How does Kirwan get to this scenario? It's essentially based on the fall of Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert down the draft board. Most every mock draft out there had Miami at #15 picking Ingram. But according to Kirwan's latest mock draft, if Gabbert does indeed drop out of the top five picks, he could fall to Miami. If that happens, and given the sad state of the Dolphins current quarterback situation, Kirwan argues that, "The Dolphins have to take Gabbert if he falls this far. One coach told me Gabbert is this far down on their board. Miami needs to make changes at quarterback, or at least bring in competition."

Ingram is the only first-round worthy running back in this year's draft. There is an abundance -- and need -- for defensive linemen; some pundits project perhaps as many as 12-14 defensive linemen may be selected in the first round. So, Kirwan's mock draft has Ingram falling to the bottom of the first round, assuming Miami takes Gabbert. As he says about Ingram going to the Packers, "If the Dolphins don’t take Ingram at No. 15, he could be sitting here for the Packers. It would be too good to be true for the world champs, but the Packers just might end up with Ingram, which would spell the end for Ryan Grant in Green Bay."

The Packers are also looking to add depth to their defensive line, particularly if, as expected, veteran Cullen Jenkins departs in free agency (whenever that commences). Offensive tackle is also a slot that needs beefing up. There has even been speculation that if Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi falls as far #25, GM Ted Thompson might swing a deal to move up for him with his old protege, John Schneider, now running the Seahawks. I think that's a stretch for two reasons: I expect Carimi to be off the board before then and, secondly, the pressure on Schneider to draft Washington QB Jake Locker if he is available at that spot is too great for Schneider to pass up.

So, while I personally would like to imagine that Kirwan's scenario plays out Thursday evening and Ingram is sitting there at #32, I'm not holding my breath. I think the likelihood is another name will be called. But, six years ago, who would have imagined that Aaron Rodgers, a possible #1 pick overall, would drop into the Packers' lap at #24? Stranger things have happened.

And let's also not forget that if Thompson thinks he can get just as valuable a player farther down the line as what he's looking at with that 32nd pick, he will not hesitate to trade down out of the pick. That's as much Thompson's modus operandi as anything else.

Kirwan has posted a mock draft for the first three rounds. In addition to having the Pack take Ingram in round 1, he has them selecting OLB Bruce Carter from North Carolina at #64 in the second round and DT Pernell McPhee from Mississippi State with the 96th overall pick in the third round.

You can check out Kirwan's complete three rounds beginning here.