OLB Comparison: Melvin Ingram and Larry English

Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Is the San Diego Chargers' 2012 first-round draft pick any different from their 2009 first-round draft pick?

Draft Position and Reasoning

Larry English: Drafted 16th overall in the 2009 NFL Draft with the idea of replacing Shawne Merriman, who was the best pass rusher on the team but was coming up on a huge second contract. English was leverage, a backup plan and a way to improve the defense.

Melvin Ingram: Drafted 18th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft with the idea of replacing Shaun Phillips, who is on the downslope of his career and was coming up on a large contract at a position that the San Diego Chargers would like to save money at. Ingram was leverage, a backup plan and a way to improve the defense.


Physical Attributes

English: 6'2" and 254 lbs. I commented, after he was drafted, that I thought English lacked the flexibility and the arm length required to get good position at the 3-4 Outside Linebacker position. Pre-draft scouting reports refute this claim, stating that he has "good" arm length.

Ingram: 6'1" and 264 lbs. Melvin's stock fell during the draft due to concerns over his short arms and how they would affect his ability to rush the passer in the NFL.


First-Year Performance

English:

  • Official: 11 Tackles (5 solo), 1.5 Sacks.
  • Pro Football Focus Stats: 561 snaps, 2 Sacks, 9 QB Hits, 14 QB Hurries, 19 Solo Tackles, 9 Stops
  • Pro Football Focus Ratings: -24.7 Overall, -10.8 Run Defense, -9.4 Pass Rush, -2.6 Pass Coverage

Ingram:

  • Official: 29 Tackles (16 solo), 1 Sack.
  • Pro Football Focus Stats: 475 snaps, 2 Sacks, 2 QB Hits, 29 QB Hurries, 21 Solo Tackles, 15 Stops
  • Pro Football Focus Ratings: -3.9 Overall, 1.6 Run Defense, 1.4 Pass Rush, -3.7 Pass Coverage


A couple of things to note at this part of the comparison.....

Larry English got more snaps in his rookie season because he was forced into a starting role for a few games due to injuries to Shawne Merriman. All things considered, 90 more snaps isn't all that much more. Still, English was being asked to do things (like play the run on 1st and 2nd down) that Ingram wasn't in his first season because Shaun Phillips and Jarret Johnson stayed healthy in front of Melvin in 2012.

Also, there are some stats that change. Sacks and tackles don't, anymore, but things like "QB Hurries" is a little different from what it used to be. That makes it a little more murky to compare these, but we'll take them at face value.


Health

As you probably know, I've been stating since the end of the season that Ingram hasn't proved that he's any better than Larry English (yet). The most common response is that he's better simply because he's on the field. While it's true that Larry missed 8 games in 2010 and 11 games in 2011, he played in all 17 games of his rookie season.

Ingram, who didn't have the chance to play in a playoff game in his rookie season, played in all 16 games the San Diego Chargers had in 2012. Whether or not he remains healthy in years 2 and 3 of his career is anybody's guess, the same way it was with English.


Differences?

My point isn't to prove that Melvin Ingram's career is going to end up in the same place as Larry English's after four years in the NFL. There's no way to prove that. However, after a year in the NFL, Ingram hasn't proved anything more than what English had proved after his first year. To state that Ingram is definitively better than English was, or that their careers have completely different trajectories after a single NFL season is to live in fairytale land.

Feel free to discuss and rip me apart in the comments below.

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