Mark Ingram is the top running back in the draft.

Could Tampa Land Mark Ingram?

TAMPA – With the lockout raining on everyone’s draft geek parade, we still can’t help ourselves from diving into the always entertaining draft rumor mill.

It’s part of what makes the draft an actual event people care about. Without the constant speculation and hype on college players we’ve seen grow the past 2-4 years, would we really care about the draft?

Tampa Bay is no stranger to draft speculation and the funnest type of speculation is who will drop to your team selecting in the second stretch of the first round.

Tampa Bay is part of this speculation again.

There is not a lot of hope of a top 10 prospect on the lists falling to the Bucs, but there is a chance a top 5 player from previous years lists will.

That guy is former Alabama running back and Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram.

The back was highly touted the year he exploded to win the Heisman trophy but the buzz around him has since fizzled. This is much to the Bucs luck.

Last year if it wasn’t for the incredible diamond on the rough find that was LaGarrette Blount, the Bucs running game would have most likely prevented the magical 10-win season they pumped out.

Blount is a solid option at back, but he’s not a primary runner. He’s too big for that. Blount is the type of runner better suited for a two back system where he can split carries with a more agile and speed based back, an area Tampa has been hurting for a while.

This is why even before the find of Blount, I was an extremely strong advocate of the Bucs drafting California running back Javhid Best last year and I thought we had him until the Lions leapfrogged the Bucs and took him a pick before.

Ingram’s stock as been dropping due to his lack of a repeat performance last year, and the other names that had that year last season.

The Cam Newton’s and Julio Jones’ of offensive college football world.

Because of this it seems like a real possibility that Ingram could slide to the abics at 20, as another factor in his stock dropping is simply a lacking of need in the running back category for a lot of teams.

There are teams that need them, don’t get me wrong, they just don’t need them so bad they’ll be willing to reach for a guy like Ingram too early.

The 20th selection is not too early.

The Bucs are so interested in this that Ingram is reportedly meeting with the Bucs this week.

Of course the problem with taking a back at 20 is the Bucs would have to overlook the glaring hole at the pass rush position. It’s really the key that was missing from last years defense. Had Tampa had a solid pass rusher (Again I was an advocate of nabbing free agent Aaron Kampman last year), the Bucs season might have ended in the postseason rather than with just the 10 wins.

This is why draft speculation is so fun, because it all matters who’s available for the Bucs at 20.

They will most likely take the best avaiable DE, or an even better scenario sees them trading up to snag a Cameron Jordan, Ryan Kerrigan or J.J. Watt.

However a source close to the Bucs has told me Tampa will most likely sit at 20 and target Georgia DE Justin Houston.

But taking Ingram at 20 is an interesting thought. I have said for the past few years Tampa should have gotten in on the running backs that have filtered through the draft classes such as Jonathan Dwyer who was taken in the later rounds.

Options like that Re available for the Bucs in guys like Oklahoma State’s Kendall Hunter, Louisville’s Bilal Powell, or even a guy like Eastern Washington’s Taiwan Jones who Roto-World has projected as going to Tampa at 84th overall.

But as always, until that name is called at the podium, it’s all speculation. Damn fun speculation.

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Tags: 2011 NFL Draft Mark Ingram NFL Draft Taiwan Jones Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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