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NFL Draft 2011: Should the Saints Select a Running Back?

The New Orleans Saints have some holes on defense that have become apparent the last few seasons. Their needs this year are usually listed as DE, DT, OLB, and sometimes OT, though not ranked in any particular order. However, some people (of which I include myself) feel that those needs should be set aside if the running back from Alabama falls to the Saints at the 24th overall spot.

But can the Saints afford to use their first round pick on a running back when they just locked up Pierre Thomas to a 4-year deal, already have Bush in a $10 million deal and have a serviceable back in Chris Ivory? Especially when you consider that their front seven on defense is in dire need of some young talent that can finally help generate a pass rush without having to send the house on every play.

Well, I'm going to try and see if I can justify "Ingrammania!!" or find out if it is nothing more than a dream. Then we'll take the temperature of Who Dat Nation one last time before the draft this Thursday with one last poll and see who you think the Saints will actually select when they're on the clock. Make the jump, won't you?

Pros of drafting a running back

The Saints need a workhorse back, this few people would disagree with. It's just a matter of where they place that need. By having a first round back on the roster, Payton will be able to execute a more balanced offense or at least be able to run the ball more effectively. Having an unpredictable offense would help the Saints get that explosive 2009 offense back that helped get them a Super Bowl ring.

And what about the defense? Wouldn't the Saints be neglecting the part of the team that needs a talent infusion more? Drafting a running back might actually help the defense take a few more breathers or longer breathers by running the clock down a bit more. And with a better offense as mentioned above, the Saints should have longer possessions.

But what about that talent infusion? Take a look at the 2010 draft. Notice the defensive players as you get out of the top 10. Each one had different effects on their team, but by and large they did not make much of an impact in their first year. That's the problem with most defensive players; they need at least a year in the NFL before actually becoming worth their weight in gold. So just because the Saints draft Justin Houston or Akeem Ayers does not mean that they will make an impact their first year especially considering the possible lack of OTA's this off-season (thank you NFL and NFLPA).

Running backs, on the other hand, make their biggest impacts early in their career. That is perfect for a team with a "win now" thought process. The Saints don't have the time to go in and draft projects to improve every aspect of their team while the current parts start breaking down sooner than expected.

Finally, the 2011 draft is deep with defensive players. So the Saints can still pick up great defensive players in the second and third rounds without much drop off in pure talent.

Cons of drafting a running back

Now, to make a rebuttal to all the points I mentioned above.

As I said earlier, the Saints need a workhorse back but how are people to know that Ingram is that back? I think most Saints fans know what happened the last time the Saints drafted a Heisman winning running back in the first round. That guy did not become the workhorse of their offense. The networks like to hype up players but that does not mean they will become the Savior of NFL offenses just because ESPN likes the college they came from. And also, Payton led the Saints to a Lombardi with Mike Bell, Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush and Lynell Hamilton. How would an All-Pro back change that?

The Saints defense truly needs more young talent. The defensive line is getting older with it's current talent, the linebackers need any kind of talent and the defense are in need of a great pass rusher. To grab an offensive talent when the Saints are stacked on offense would be downright criminal.

And who's to say that Justin Houston or Akeem Ayers wouldn't be day one producers? They have to be drafted before you can evaluate them. Even if they do take a few games to get used to the flow, they would still have more talent than do the current batch of players the Saints have on defense.

Finally, if the Saints do draft a running back with the 24th pick, the Saints won't pick again until the 56th pick, meaning a lot of those talented defensive players will be off the board before they do get a chance to grab someone else.

So what do you think CSC? If Mark Ingram is on the board when the Saints are on the clock, should they grab him or take someone else?

Like last time, cast your vote in our poll one final time before the NFL Draft and let's see just who Saints fans think the team will actually draft.

The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft starts at 8 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, April 28th and SB Nation has everything you need to prepare for it - NFL mock drafts, draft projections, scouting reports, the full NFL draft schedule and more. Check it all out at SB Nation's NFL Hub and our NFL Draft blog Mocking the Draft

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