Skip to main content

Saints trade back into first round to draft Ingram at No. 28

METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints weren't satisfied when they addressed one huge need by taking California defensive end Cameron Jordan with the 24th pick in the NFL draft. They traded back into the first round and grabbed Alabama running back Mark Ingram at No. 28.

General manager Mickey Loomis said both players, who have strong NFL bloodlines, were among their top four targets.

"We feel that" the stars were aligned, Loomis said. "It remains to be seen if we were right. We'll have to wait a few years to judge that, but we certainly feel good about this draft."

The Saints traded their first-round pick in the 2012 draft and their second-round pick this year to the New England Patriots to take Ingram. He rushed for 1,658 yards in 2009, won the Heisman Trophy and led Alabama to the national championship.

Ingram, the son of former NFL standout Mark Ingram Sr, did not match those numbers last season. He injured his left knee in preseason practice, underwent arthroscopic surgery and missed the first two games, finishing with 875 yards on 158 carries.

Still, he was the first running back taken.

The Saints finished 28th in the NFL in rushing last year, averaging just 94.9 yards while being decimated by injuries. Undrafted rookie free agent Chris Ivory had a team-high 716 yards, and no one else rushed for 300.

Ivory, Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, who led New Orleans in rushing in 2008 and 2009, all missed time.

"I knew they had liked my game," Ingram said. "I'm excited that they traded up to come get me. They have a lot of great backs down there. I'm just going to go down there, work my butt and contribute to the team and help them win championships."

Bush apparently doesn't think there is room for him in what will be a crowded backfield in the Saints pass-first offense led by quarterback Drew Brees. Bush tweeted "it's been fun New Orleans," an indication he does not expect to be back to collect the $11.8 million he is set to earn in what would be the final year of his contract.

New Orleans coach Sean Payton doesn't necessarily see it that way.

"There's a certain skill set Reggie has and there are things that he does that we value a lot," Payton said before Bush's tweet. Ingram "is a runner who I would say is a much different style. I wouldn't even begin to look at how it will affect Reggie's status with us. Reggie has been a big part of what we've done successfully offensively in the last five years."

Even though Ingram did not put up huge numbers as a receiver out of the backfield at Alabama -- unlike Bush -- Payton said Ingram could help the passing game, too.

"One trait that is impressive is his ability to block pressure," Payton said. "He's a physical back. He's good in his protections."

With Jordan, son of former NFL Pro Bowler Steve Jordan, the Saints are looking to bolster a lackluster pass rush. New Orleans finished tied for 18th in the NFL in sacks last season and did not get consistent pressure from starting ends Will Smith (5.5 sacks) and Alex Brown (two sacks).

Smith also faces a likely four-game suspension at the start of the season for a violation of the league's drug policy that dates back to 2008.

Jordan had 62 tackles, 12.5 stops for loss and 5.5 sacks while forcing three fumbles as a senior. He was a first-team All-Pac-10 selection last year. He started 32 games in his four-year career at California.

The Saints project the 6-foot-4, 287-pound Jordan to play on the left side, Brown's spot.

"We thought he was going to go a little higher and were very nervous the last two picks before him" Saints director of college scouting Rick Reiprish said. "We haven't got a lot of rush off that left side. He's got a little more height and length to him."

Some analysts have said Jordan is a better fit for the 3-4 defense, not the 4-3 that Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams favors.

"I think I'm going to fit in fine," Jordan said. "I adapt well. I get along with everybody. I know in the past they (the Saints) have been able to pin the ears back and get after the quarterback. As a defensive end what more can you ask for."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.