Matt Waldman’s RSP Twitter Vids: NFL Draft Sleeper, RB Keaontay Ingram (USC)

Matt Waldman’s RSP takes a second look at USC RB Keaontay Ingram, a player who impressed him this summer after review the transfer’s tape at Texas. 

Keaontay Ingram reminds me of Kareem Hunt. Both are smart runners with a shifty stride, good hands, finishing power, and vision that keeps their offenses on schedule when the opposing defense is dead set on derailing it.

Ingram was a five-star prospect at Texas who left town after seeing that Bijan Robinson would take over as the feature back. Some sportswriters may still tell you that it’s more admirable for college football players to stay at their original school and finish there no matter what but these dinosaurs need to evolve.

Texas, Georgia, and Ohio State’s athletic programs are three of the biggest businesses in their regions. And their biggest product is football. Academics are a requirement for these businesses to operate but they’ve figured out every margin they can to maximize the gains they can get from their top product.

Academics can be life-changing for many of these young men but if you’re a five-star recruit, one of your majors is football. If you have good tape and you’re about to lose time to another five-star recruit, staying impacts your shot at an NFL career.

Ingram had good tape at Texas even if Texas fans point to a handful of plays and blame him for LSU taking away their shot at a National Championship in 2019. Watching Ingram at USC is more of the same that’s well worth noting.

Ingram is a problem solver with peripheral vision and cutback ability in tight space.

Loss Mitigation is one of the most important skills for a running back because this position is the last line of defense when an opponent stacks the box and tries to contract the offense’s playbook with long down and distance scenarios. The more efficient, intelligent, and creative a back can be when he lacks the execution of his linemen, the less likely his offense has to face situations that allow the defense to dictate terms.

When Ingram has room to open his stride, he’s quick enough to beat quality athletes in space.

But where Ingram thrives most is between the tackles. He’s a technically sound back with the footwork, strength, and contact balance who understands how to get the most from his blocking.

The Hunt comparison is there for the taking if Ingram earns enough playing time to become a legitimate contributor. Considering his likely draft capital, it could take 2-3 years because he’ll be drafted as depth and that means a coaching staff will be looking at limited practice reps and rolling with the established veteran(s). The James Robinson’s of the NFL came about because the coach had to get front office permission for him to get the practice reps to legitimately compete for playing time.

If Ingram isn’t quite as refined as Hunt, I think a low-end comparison for him is Chris Ivory, a powerful and dynamic runner who was a Bill Parcells favorite but couldn’t stay healthy.

Don’t sleep in Ingram. He may not earn a chance to deliver upon his ceiling of value, but his skills are of the quality that you want to be invested in his journey. For real football, it means getting this back on your roster and giving him a chance to compete for playing time.

For fantasy players, that means a mid-to-late pick in your rookie drafts or monitoring his career path from afar with interest.

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