Ingram improves stock at Pro Day

Jason Galloway

Since the NFL Combine, some have speculated that no running backs will be taken in the first round of April’s NFL Draft.

Mark Ingram may have changed those opinions Wednesday.

The Heisman Trophy winner ran “between a 4.47 and 4.53” in the 40-yard dash at Alabama’s Pro Day, a significant difference from his 4.62 at the Combine just weeks earlier.

“I saw the race that I ran at the combine. I looked at it plenty of times,” Ingram said. “I just really wasn’t happy with how I ran it… I knew I could run faster. Any small thing can make your time go this and there.”

Ingram also said he weighed in at 214 pounds Wednesday, seven pounds under his playing weight at Alabama. He said he feels more explosive now, and he very well could be considering he ran among the fastest 10-yard split (first 10 yards of the 40-yard dash) of all running backs at the combine.

“I just feel better this way,” he said. “Today was an overall success.”

It was not difficult to find out who was paying attention to defensive lineman Marcell Dareus at Pro Day. Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera and Denver Broncos head coach John Fox – whose teams own the top two picks in April’s draft – were in Tuscaloosa Wednesday. Dareus has been in the conversation to become the first overall pick.

“I’ve never been in the top of anything,” Dareus said. “For people to acknowledge me for what I do and put me that high is kind of unheard of. I didn’t think I’d ever be in that position.

“They say I’m doing pretty good. They say I’m going to be a good player and that I can play at least 10 years in the league. That sounds good to hear from other teams.”

On top of Rivera and Fox, other notable NFL executives in attendance Wednesday included Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway, Cleveland Browns general manager Tom Heckert, San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke and Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix.

Other Alabama players who participated alongside Ingram and Dareus in Wednesday’s Pro Day included James Carpenter, Earl Alexander, Luther Davis, Brian Motley and Chavis Williams. Julio Jones (foot), Greg McElroy (hand) and Preston Dial (unspecified) did not participate due to injury.

Jones, who ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine with a broken bone in his foot, said he will not participate in any more workouts before the draft. McElroy said he – along with Dial and Alexander – will compete at Alabama’s second Pro Day on April 5.

“I just want to go out there and do everything I possibly can,” McElroy said. “In the next couple weeks, I’ll be able to throw 100 percent every route that I’m going to be asked to throw at Pro Day.”

Former players Javier Arenas and Roy Upchurch were also in attendance, along with many current Crimson Tide players, to show support for the athletes participating.

“The fact that we get to come back and watch these guys, I think it means a lot to them,” Arenas said. “[I would tell them] just continue to have fun and play good football. Don’t get caught up in all the hype and the money and the things of that nature.”

The 2011 NFL Draft will be held in New York April 28-30 and will be televised by ESPN and the NFL Network.