Locker Room Sleepers Bracket Round One: Mark Ingram vs. Jeremy Hill
This post appears as part of our 2014 Ultimate NFL Sleepers Bracket. View the other entries below, or check progress at the overall bracket.
Chris Meaney marches in with Mark Ingram:
Mark Ingram has been hampered by injuries and has yet to live up to his first round draft stock from 2011. Ingram was the first back selected, 28 spots after the Panthers took Cam Newton. The Saints recently declined Ingram’s 2015 option making this year a now or never situation in New Orleans for the former Heisman winner. As as much as I want to list off reasons why you should draft Ingram, I must try and turn you away from Pierre Thomas at the same time.
Thomas is coming off a career best 77 reception season and should get more grabs in 2014 with Darren Sproles now in Philadelphia lookin’ for that Philly cheese. Most of Thomas’ touches will be from balls thrown his way, but he will still be involved in the run game. PT has missed 18 games and was limited in another five since 2009. It’s hard to predict injuries, and he was completely healthy last year, but he has a few bumps and bruises heading into year eight and he won’t be able to handle the bulk of the carries.
Ingram can also look to last season as a step in the right direction after finishing with 4.9 yards per carry last season. The former Alabama star had 145 yards on 14 carries against the Cowboys (weak D), and 83 yards on 13 rushes against the Panthers (not so weak D). Ingram was impressive against the Eagles in the playoffs rushing for 97 yards on 18 attempts while finding the end zone. The very next week in Seattle Ingram had 10 carries for 49 yards, giving that 4.9 average. Those four games were the only four in which Ingram had at least 10 carries.
In year four, Ingram seems prime for a breakout season if he can take advantage of a few touches and find consistency, plus he has the contract year as a bit of motivation. Ingram has to fight off Khiry Robinson for ‘rushing rights’ and goal line touches and I like his chances to be first in line to prove his worth. Saints GM Mickey Loomis said declining Ingram’s option was a financial decision and that he has high expectations for him this season, you should too.
Brian Jodoin responds for Jeremy Hill:
I know Jeremy Hill doesn’t seem like a sleeper. We’re all talking about him, there have been articles about him and Hue Jackson being a run-first kind of playcaller. To your average, or casual player (I’m looking at you 98% of people in the ESPN Mock Draft Lobby), this kid is being VASTLY overlooked. Right now on ESPN, Jeremy Hill’s adp is 130th. 130th. Are you kidding me? There are seven defenses and a kicker being taken before him. Johnny Manziel.. who likely isn’t even going to start at the beginning of the season, is going before him. Hill is going off the board at ESPN as RB46 and that is just RIDICULOUS.
All the talk out of Cincinnati is pointing towards Bernard and Hill in a RBBC. Not only that, but the team is going to run more. A lot of times under Jay Gruden last year, the game dictated his playcalling. Hue’s not going to do that. He’s going to run the football. Not even Injuries will stop him. Everyone remembers when Darren McFadden went BONKERS for 13 games under Hue before injury, but what you might not remember is what happened after he went down. Michael Bush took over, they didn’t stop running. Bush got hurt, missed the last couple games, Hue plugged Marcel Reece in and had some great performances at the end of that year.
People can use numbers to make any argument they want, I don’t like numbers. Hue Jackson is going to run the football and Jeremy Hill is going to be an integral part of that. The evidence is already there without even digging that far, why ignore it?