COLUMBIA, SC: Melvin Ingram #6 of the South Carolina Gamecocks celebrates after a mostly positive article about his skills. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Well, we already addressed your ridiculous expectations of the Chargers' day 3 and day 2 picks, so that brings us to Melvin Ingram. The 18th overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft has had some truly insane predictions made about his rookie campaign already. One observer has already projected an NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award for Ingram in his first year as a pro.
Round 1, Pick 18, Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
I shouldn't have to tell you this, but if you are expecting a rookie outside linebacker making the transition from defensive end and splitting time with an already established group of outside linebackers to come in and win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year you need to calm down. In the grand tradition of this blog, allow me to state unequivocally that I, Richard Wade, will eat my hat* if Melvin Ingram wins that award this coming season.
I've also seen some excited Chargers fans predicting a Defensive Rookie of the Year honor for Melvin Ingram. That's at least possible. It's terribly unlikely, though. Ingram will be part of a rotation with Jarret Johnson, Shaun Phillips and Antwan Barnes this season. This will suppress his playing time and make it difficult for him to put up the kind of numbers that catch the eye of voters even if he manages to play at a level that would be deserving of such recognition.
One of the names I've seen tossed around with regard to Ingram is that of Shawne Merriman. If you're expecting production like that, I'm sorry to say you'll be disappointed. Merriman was a much more talented pass rusher than Ingram is or likely ever will be and played in a Wade Phillips defense that tends to allow pass rushers to shine. We honestly have no idea what Pagano's defense will look like, but it's overly optimistic to think he'll be as good in his first year as a coordinator as Wade Phillips. If your benchmark for success is Merriman, Ingram's going to look like a failure.
Is all hope lost?** Of course not. Melvin Ingram is a great athlete and a very talented football player that can line up all over the field. Think of him like a faster Jarret Johnson*** with superior pass rushing skills at the expense of run stuffing. Then realize that Johnson is a tremendous player that provided nearly a decade of valuable production to the Baltimore Ravens. A lot of smart**** people projected Ingram as a top 10 pick because he has a lot of physical tools and a good motor. He should be successful in the NFL and could reasonably be expected to push Johnson and/or Phillips for playing time by the end of the season. But please don't raise expectations so high that a successful season looks like a failure.
Please feel free to agree or disagree***** in the comments.
*It's a green, fitted Tin Caps baseball cap.
**Yes, but that has no bearing on this discussion.
***In that he can be lined up all over the field.
*****Disagreement is actually frowned upon.