From tattoos to suits?

Alabama Crimson Tide Julio Jones (R) drops a pass next to Florida Gators’ Joe Haden (L) during the first quarter in their NCAA SEC Championship college football game in Atlanta, Georgia, December 5, 2009. REUTERS/Tami Chappell (UNITED STATES SPORT FOOTBALL)

Ohio State lost its coach and best player as a result of a scandal stemming from tattoos. That story seems to be winding down, but we shouldn’t be surprised to hear about potential scandals at other schools where players are trading signed memorabilia for stuff.

In Alabama, it looks like the players might be partial to suits over tattoos. Outkick the Coverage is tracking this story, and they have photos of Julio Jones wearing 10 different suits as he walks into Alabama games. It’s still early, but let’s see if the NCAA gets involved.

Until the NCAA changes the way it does business, these scandals will start popping up all over the place.

UPDATE: Brooks digs into the story and uncovers more information and photos, including information about Mark Ingram.

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Will Reggie Bush be back in New Orleans next year?

New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush (L) picks up first quarter yardage as he tries to elude Seattle Seahawks defender Walter Thurmond during their NFC Wildcard playoff NFL game in Seattle, January 8, 2011. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Shortly after the Saints traded back into the first round to select Alabama running back Mark Ingram, Reggie Bush tweeted: “It’s been fun New Orleans.”

But does that mean that Bush is done in Nawlans? According to head coach Sean Payton, the answer is no.

After selecting Ingram, Payton told the media that the pick has “no bearing” on Bush’s future. He even went as far as to say that he would be “surprised, really” if Bush isn’t back in New Orleans in 2011.

But the fact that the Saints just traded up to take a feature back in the first round and Bush is owed $11.8 million next year says otherwise. If Bush were making significantly less, then I could see the Saints making room for the former Heisman winner. But at $11.8 million, I highly doubt that the Saints will keep him at the salary he‘s owed. Maybe he’ll be willing to take a paycut but if not, Bush could be in a different uniform come September.

The end could be near for the former No. 2 overall pick in New Orleans.

Mark Ingram receives clean bill of health

The University of Alabama Crimson Tide’s Mark Ingram celebrates scoring a touchdown against the University of Texas Longhorns during the fourth quarter in the NCAA’s BCS National Championship football game in Pasadena, January 7, 2010. REUTERS/Lori Shepler (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The Miami Herald is reporting that the famed Dr. James Andrews has given running back prospect Mark Ingram a clean bill of health heading into Thursday night’s NFL draft.

The Herald also points out that Ingram was not asked to return to Indianapolis for a medical recheck following the scouting combine. This is significant because potential draftees with medical red flags are often asked to return to Indy for further evaluations.

The health status of Ingram is important to the Dolphins, who hold the No. 15 overall pick. There’s a good chance that free agents Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams have played their last snaps in South Beach and the Fish could snag a running back in the first round. Ingram would most likely be available at that spot and is arguably the best running back prospect in the draft.

Of course, Ingram’s clean bill of health doesn’t mean that the Dolphins will select him with the No. 15 pick – even though running back is arguably their biggest need. The interior of their offensive line is also a need, as is quarterback and even safety. It seems unlikely that Miami would take a signal caller in the first round, but it’s hard to figure what will go down on Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall. This year’s draft is shrouded in mystery.

Teams concerned about Mark Ingram’s knee?

Alabama Crimson Tide running back Mark Ingram dives over Michigan State Spartans cornerback Marcus Hyde for a touchdown during the first half of the Capital One Bowl college football game in Orlando, Florida, January 1, 2011. REUTERS/Phelan M. Ebenhack (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers isn’t the only prospect that might see his draft stock fall over these next couple of weeks due to concerns about a knee injury.

According to NFL Network’s Mike Lombardi, teams have growing concerns about the health of Alabama running back Mark Ingram, who had his knee scoped prior to the 2010 season. After rushing for 1,658 yards and a 6.1 YPC average on 271 carries in 2009, the former Heisman Trophy winner was limited to just 875 yards on 158 totes a year ago.

I’ve released three mocks and in all three of them, I’ve had the Dolphins selecting Ingram with the No. 15 overall pick. There’s a real possibility that Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams (who are both free agents) have played their last downs in Miami, making the selection of Ingram a popular one in many mocks – not just mine.

But if his knee is a concern for some teams, then he could easily fall into the second round. Plus, there’s growing sentiment that the Dolphins want a home run threat, which doesn’t exactly describe Ingram’s game. If that’s the case, then maybe the Dolphins will look to nab someone like Oklahoma State’s Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma’s DeMarco Murray or UConn’s Jordan Todman in the middle rounds.

If Ingram does slip into Round 2, it’ll be interesting to see whether or not a running back will even be selected in the first. Mikel Leshoure of Illinois is viewed as a potential first round pick, but Ingram is listed ahead of him in most pundits’ rankings so he may fall, too. It isn’t a great year for running back-needy teams, although there are always bargains in the middle rounds.

How worrisome is Mark Ingram’s 40-time?

Mark Ingram ran a 4.62 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, which is considered to be on the slow side of average. In fact, the average 40-time for a RB since 2005 is 4.56, and that’s from a sample size of 163 RBs over six years.

Seven of the top eight rushers in the NFL — Chris Johnson (4.24), Jamaal Charles (4.38), Adrian Peterson (4.40), Maurice Jones-Drew (4.39), Michael Turner (4.49), Steven Jackson (4.45), Rashard Mendenhall (4.41) — ran a sub-4.5 in the 40-yard-dash.

There was one notable exception, and it was the top rusher of 2010, Arian Foster. He reportedly ran a 4.69 at his pro day, which just goes to show it doesn’t take elite speed to rack up yards.

Still, with so many of the top rushers with good to excellent speed, isn’t it worrisome for a team thinking about drafting Ingram? I posed this very question to our NFL guru, Anthony Stalter, who currently believes Ingram will go #15 to the Dolphins, and here is what he said:

There are a lot of fans and draft pundits who get too caught up in 40-yard dash times. When I watched Ingram last year, I saw a physical back but one that has great short-area quickness when he went through holes. It’s true, he doesn’t have great top-end speed and he’ll never be a back that can rely on straight-line speed (which is what the 40-yard dash measures). That said, Ingram is a very solid prospect.

I think one of the most overrated factors when sizing up a running back prospect is speed, with vision being the most underrated attribute. When I watch Ingram play, he reminds me of Emmitt Smith. The former Cowboy didn’t have great straight-line speed like Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson, but he was a natural runner with tremendous vision, instinct and balance. I’m certainly not suggesting that Ingram is the next Emmitt, but he bears a resemblance to Smith when he runs.

That said, as John has pointed out, speed kills and the proof is in the pudding. When all of the elite running backs in the league are running in the 4.3s or 4.4s (or in CJ’s case, a freakish 4.2), it makes you wonder whether or not Ingram can be an elite back in the NFL. Then again, I haven’t heard one analyst deem him an elite prospect, so it’s all relative. It would be great if every top 15 pick were elite, but the draft remains the ultimate crapshoot. If the Dolphins were to take him at No. 15 and he wound up being a solid feature back for the next 6-8 seasons, went to 1-2 Pro Bowls but was never considered an elite player, wouldn’t their selection of him be considered successful?

After running a 4.62 forty at the combine, there’s a good chance that Ingram could drop into the bottom half of the first round. I still like him at No. 15 to Miami, but some teams are overly reliant on the forty so I could see him potentially falling come April. It would be too bad too, because I think he’s a nice overall player who has worked hard to shed some weight in the offseason.

Foster is the exception that proves the rule: Speed kills. It’s great that the undrafted Foster landed in a good situation in Houston and made the most of it. But Ingram is widely regarded as the top prospect in a weak RB draft, and in all likelihood will be a first round pick. If the Dolphins are drafting him in the middle of the first, isn’t it their expectation that he’ll be elite? And what are his chances of becoming elite without top-end speed?

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