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Mark Ingram shows well in Tuscaloosa

3/9/2011

Alabama's pro day workout took place Wednesday in Tuscaloosa, and first-round prospects RB Mark Ingram and DT Marcell Dareus were obviously the headliners.

Ingram speeds up

A scout in attendance told me he clocked Ingram at 4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash and said one stopwatch had him at 4.43, which is a big improvement over the 4.62 he ran last week at the NFL combine. That time could help him in the eyes of some scouts and teams, but for the most part, it won't affect his draft stock much.

Even with the slower-than-expected time at the combine, Ingram remained the clear-cut No. 1 running back on our board. He is a very tough runner who gets stronger as games wear on, he shows the burst to turn the corner on film, his vision and patience are excellent, and he runs with great balance. Those things are enough to make him worthy of a mid-to-late first-round pick regardless of his 40 time.

Dareus solidifying his standing

A strong showing at the combine helped Dareus cement his status as an elite prospect, and he did nothing to hurt himself Wednesday. He stood on most of his numbers from Indianapolis but did take part in the broad jump after skipping it at the combine, posting an 8-foot-10 jump.

That's one inch better than the average for defensive tackles at the past three combines, but keep in mind that Dareus weighed in at 318 pounds, while the three-year average at his position is 305. That shows good explosiveness.

I've heard a lot of talk lately about Carolina considering Dareus with the No. 1 overall pick, and new Panthers coach Ron Rivera was in attendance after watching Nick Fairley and Cam Newton on Tuesday at Auburn.

Denver holds the No. 2 pick and has needs along the defensive line, making the Broncos another possible destination for Dareus, who has the versatility to play the 5-technique (DE) in a 3-4 scheme but is best suited as a 4-3 tackle.

It just so happens that Denver is moving to a 4-3 scheme under new head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, and executive vice president of football operations John Elway was in Alabama to get an up-close look at Dareus.

The Broncos or any other team with a need at defensive tackle would do well to bring in a player with the kind of speed, size, quick hands/feet and interior pass-rush skills Dareus brings to the table.

Jones, McElroy interest spectators

WR Julio Jones was on crutches after undergoing surgery Saturday for a stress fracture in his left foot and won't work out for scouts again before the draft. He had an impressive combine, though, and Michael Crabtree in 2009 proved that teams are willing to take a chance in the first round on wide receivers in Jones' situation. Jones remains in the mid-first-round area on our board despite the injury

As for QB Greg McElroy, a broken hand is still preventing him from throwing. McElroy hopes to begin throwing next week and is shooting for an April 5 workout in Tuscaloosa, where he will be looking to show the physical tools to complement his toughness, leadership and smarts, and lock down a spot in the later rounds.