Last season the Arizona Cardinals showed a willingness to run the football. They ranked 10th in the league with 2,076 rushing yards and 7th in rush attempts (496). The efficiency was inconsistent as they ranked 22nd in ypc, 4.3.
This rushing attack lacked explosiveness to generate big plays. Arizona has only 13 total runs over 20-plus yards. This must improve heading into the 2022 season.
Losing Chase Edmonds placed running back on the radar for needs to address this off-season. They decided to re-sign James Conner as the lead back of the backfield. In the 6th round of last month’s NFL draft, the Cardinals selected USC RB Keaontay Ingram.
Ingram joins current Cardinals’ Conner, Eno Benjamin, and newly signed Darrel Williams. This means it may be an uphill climb for Ingram to receive significant snaps as a rookie, right? Possibly, but not a guarantee.
Ingram is a nice fit for Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. Chase Edmonds was the master of the inside and split zone plays, Ingram has the tools to excel on those plays. Also, he is experienced running the outside zone concepts out of shotgun or pistol formations.
Ingram was never used as the feature back for either Texas or USC. Hence the reason his numbers and productivity never reached 1,000 yards in any season. Typically, he hovered around 140 to 150 rushing attempts on the season. Ingram has improved his end-of-season yardage totals each year besides 2020, where he only carried the football 53 times and played in six games.
What does the film say?
Ingram’s college film showed the necessary flashes and glimpses to generate excitement for his professional transition. I have a few clips to show what the rookie RB can do.
In the first clip, Ingram reads the action at the LOS. Identifies an escape route with the interior path clogged, he cuts behind the slice blocker (backside TE). He does a great job manipulating the defenders to vacant a cutback lane.
One hard plant and he bursts past both defenders. Once he reaches the 2nd-level, Ingram angles his body left to force a commitment from the near defender before cutting across his face. He showcases the ability to turn a would-be short gain into a potential score. The holding penalty negated the play, but you get the picture.
I’m excited to see Keaontay Ingram complete the field drills in Indy! He showcases good footwork & quickness on tape.— Full-Time Dame (@DP_NFL) February 27, 2022
Filthy initial cut on this play then executes the read & cut with precision.
Holding kept this from being a touchdown though.pic.twitter.com/V0N1OTMl9P
In this next clip from the 2022 Shrine Bowl, Ingram shows his receiving skill set. A wheel route out of the backfield is a nice way to isolate an RB/LB mismatch. Ingram tempos his speed mid-stem before exploding past the defender. Edmonds was the primary weapon out of the backfield, but Ingram has the receiving chops to be effective in the passing game.
Jack Coan connects with USC RB Keaontay Ingram for the deep TD #ShrineBowl pic.twitter.com/Xsr6uvwTQ7— Tyler Browning (@DiabeticTyler) January 29, 2022
In this clip(s), Ingram displays his ability to navigate a condensed box with patience, burst, and vision. His vertical cuts allow him to evade upfield defenders and continue to gain extra yardage. The foot quickness is one of his best traits. He can get out of trouble and find alternate paths to open the field.
Keaontay Ingram, RB, Texas-— Ryder McConville (@RyderM25) July 24, 2020
- Smooth operator w/ thick build
- Patient runner
- Quick and light feet
- Very good hands
- Threat out of the backfield
- Contact balance
- Good vision
- Solid elusiveness in the open field
- Very good burst
- Solid processor#NFLDraft #HookEm pic.twitter.com/X1bA1eeL71
In this final clip, Ingram patiently presses the LOS before stringing together multiple jump cuts to the perimeter. He has a strong stiff/straight arm to clear would-be tacklers. Afterward, his speed and burst take over.
KEAONTAY INGRAM 49 YARD TD!#Longhorns take a commanding 38-10 lead over the #Utes#ThisIsTexas #HookEm #AlamoBowl pic.twitter.com/GE3tR7J2Dw— Cold Blooded Sports (@ColdBloodedChat) January 1, 2020
Overall, Keaontay Ingram has the best and most complete skill set in the Cardinals’ running back room. Conner is penciled in as the RB1 for the offense, but the spots behind him should be up for grabs. Mini-camp and training camp will be exciting to watch this RB battle begin and develop throughout the summer.