Mock thoughts: Ingram & Solder

April, 4, 2011
4/04/11
12:00
PM ET
Charles Davis of NFL Network produces his latest mock draft, and it has an offensive flavor for the Patriots. He envisions a scenario in which the team selects Alabama running back Mark Ingram at No. 17 and Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder at No. 28.

With Ingram, Davis writes, "The Patriots have a need for a runner. It's not often that the best RB in the draft is available this late, but what good fortune for the Pats, and for Ingram."

And on Solder, Davis writes, "Needs to get stronger, but his athleticism is not questioned. Could work and develop into Tom Brady's latest blind-side protector."

ANALYSIS: In this type of scenario, the Patriots would presumably focus on defense with their second-round picks, and there are some highly-rated outside linebackers still on the board for them at No. 33 (Pitt's Jabaal Sheard, for one). As for Ingram, this possibility looks a bit like 2006, when the Patriots were sitting at No. 21 and there were nine straight defensive players drafted from Nos. 12-20, which created a situation where a top-rated running back was unexpectedly available (Laurence Maroney). The Patriots viewed that as strong value, although it didn't turn out the way they hoped. I think Ingram would be a solid choice for the Patriots, assuming they address the defense/pass rush elsewhere. When looking at the Patriots' roster, there are a few vacancies at the running back spot and so this year is set up for the Patriots to draft a player at the position for the first time since 2007. The question is more "when" from this perspective. At No. 28, Solder could be groomed for the future -- depending on if Matt Light returns as a free agent -- although a defensive lineman like Cameron Heyward might be too enticing to pass up.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter
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