Third up in this pass rusher series is University of South Carolina Senior DE Melvin Ingram, our first Senior of the bunch. That means that Ingram got to participate in the Senior Bowl down in Mobile, Alabama back in January and he shined at that event. Well, more specifically, he shined at the practices dominating the top Senior OT prospects in the country. Ingram also did well when jkvandal looked at the explosiveness and plays/game for each pass rushing prospect. His explosiveness number wasn't as high as a DeMarcus Ware, but it was higher than last year's stud Von Miller. He averaged over 1 big play/game, but that took into account his whole college career even though he wasn't a full time starter until his senior year. If you only use his senior season, then it jumps to almost 2 big pass rushing plays (sacks + TFLs) per game. He also had 2 INTs and 3 TDs.
There's no disputing that Ingram had a terrific senior season and showed at the Senior Bowl and Combine that he's an excellent NFL prospect. But, is he a fit for the Chargers? If you read the scouting report you might interpret a bit of hesitance saying that he's a fit for the 3-4. What I seem to come away with is that is best spot is in a 4-3. To the point where his grade in a 4-3 is going to be much higher than in the 3-4. That means that a 3-4 team could see him as a top 20 pick and teams in the 4-3 could view him as a top 10. Since the Chargers pick 18th, that would mean that any 4-3 teams drafting from picks 11-17 would have to pass on what would be a great value pick. Who knows, maybe if it does happen and if it does we should know what type of player the team is getting.
Over at MockingTheDraft.com they've covered Ingram a couple of times. About a month ago they mentioned him in some post combine pass rusher talk:
Melvin Ingram, South Carolina, 6'1'', 264 pounds - Melvin Ingram does not possess the physical ability of Quinton Coples, but he is a versatile and hard working pass rusher. His best fit is probably at outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, but if Ingram was to add some bulk to his frame, he could put his hand in the dirt in a 4-3 defense.
For some reason, the writer seemed to think that Ingram would work better in the 3-4, but that seems to run counter to most of the reports I've seen. If you read their report from January on Gamecock defensive standout, you'll see what I mean:
6’1 7/8, 276 pounds | Defensive end/Outside linebacker | South Carolina
Coverage: Although Ingram hasn’t been used much dropping back in coverage, he has the agility and range to transition well with some repetitions. He’s done well when used in zone coverage and returned an interception for a touchdown as a junior. Almost a complete unknown in man situations. May need to learn how to match up one-on-one against tight ends and running backs. Height may be a disadvantage against big tight ends.
Instincts/recognition: One of the bigger deficiencies in Ingram’s game is his snap anticipation. It’s a little slow, which hurts him against quick offensive tackles. If they beat him to the edge, he can be neutralized. Is adept at deciphering run and pass plays. Doesn’t get fooled by play action.
Pass rush: Although Ingram doesn’t have a superb first step, he still manages to be a productive pass rusher. He plays with excellent technique to keep blockers out of his frame. Shows a nice variety of moves when he’s trying to get after the passer. Likes to fake outside and work the inside gap. Uses a spin and though it’s not the fastest he often goes in the direction to hit a gap. Does a nice job of staying low around the corner to get underneath blockers.
Pursuit: Could be a good 3-4 linebacker prospect because of his ability to change direction in open space. That helps both his ability to tackle and move around when coming from behind the line of scrimmage.
Run defense: Holds the edge nicely against the run. Keeps a good base for leverage and uses his upper body strength to move linemen around. Won’t get a great push with his legs, but makes up for it with a powerful upper body. Is best in the run game when he can take advantage of his natural quickness to split blockers. Needs to get better tackling running backs. Will get off his feet and pushed aside.
Final word: Ingram is an athletic and versatile defensive lineman who can be a terror against the pass, but sometimes suspect against the run. He's lined up at tackle, end and standing up outside the offensive tackle. Some NFL team is going to a player who will give their defense plenty of options.
He really burst onto the scene as a prospect during his senior season. In 2011, he had 48 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. Against Auburn alone, he had 11 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
Notice that comment in the "Final word" section. This is something I've seen over and over again about him. He's versatile and can line up in a lot of positions. This reminds me of someone. Newly acquired Chargers OLB Jarret Johnson. From what I can tell, drafting Ingram would be like getting a clone of Johnson. Maybe that's a good thing and maybe that's a bad thing. Pessimists would point to Johnson and say he's past 30 and could need a replacement sooner rather than later. Optimists would point to the 4 year deal San Diego gave him and say that he's the starter for a while. If you go down the latter path, you could look at Shaun Phillips' side and point out that he's a free agent soon. But, do you really want to Jarret Johnson types playing OLB? Again, maybe, maybe not. My guy says you want someone who is a little more more of a speed guy.
Not mentioned in the above report are his durability, experience, effort and character. He's been hurt a lot, a broken hand, a broken foot and another different foot injury. He only had started 2 games before his senior season. And while he's not lazy, he's not a guy with a high motor and tends to get sloppy as he gets tired. These are certainly not huge warning flags, but worth taking into account. Character-wise he's solid. He fought through that broken hand to keep playing and he's shown noticeable maturity improvements over his time at South Carolina.