I'm ranking the top 20 New Orleans Saints players leading up to training camp. It's based on their current value -- meaning both past accomplishments and potential are taken into account. Think, who would you want on the field most in Week 1 this season?
Ingram: Year 4, Age 24, 5-foot-9, 215 pounds
Robinson: Year 2, Age 24, 6-foot, 220 pounds.
Analysis: OK, so a tie is a bit of a cop-out. But I did it for a specific reason with these two. They should share the workload pretty evenly this year as the more “traditional” backs in New Orleans' offense. Unless one of them really gets a hot hand (or one gets injured), their stats could look awfully similar by year's end.
I also think that either one of these guys has the kind of talent that would rank them higher on this list if they were used as more of a “No. 1 back.” But their impact will be limited since they're in a timeshare with each other, veteran Pierre Thomas and possibly even third-year pro Travaris Cadet.
Robinson has more buzz surrounding him right now after he finished so strong last year, emerging out of nowhere as an undrafted rookie from West Texas A&M. The power runner racked up 152 yards and a touchdown over his final three games last season, including the playoffs, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. And Saints coach Sean Payton added to the hype by revealing that his mentor Bill Parcells compared Robinson to Hall of Famer Curtis Martin.
However, the buzz shouldn't be completely quiet around Ingram, even though the former first-round pick hasn't lived up to lofty expectations yet in his first three seasons. Ingram's career has been choppy because of injuries and inconsistent production. But he finished very strong once again last year with 249 rushing yards and a touchdown over his final four games, including the playoffs.
It's no coincidence that both of them thrived during the playoffs last year, because Thomas was injured. And that allowed both of them to be used in more versatile roles, such as running out of three-receiver formations and occasionally catching passes out of the backfield. I'm very intrigued to see if that continues this season, which is entirely possible now that Darren Sproles has been traded away.