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Make or Break Year: Melvin Ingram

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Will former first round pick Melvin Ingram finally live up to his first round pick status in a contract year?

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

I'll admit, I don't remember being as a happy with a Chargers' draft pick as in 2012 with Melvin Ingram. Touted as a super-athletic, possible "tweener", many wondered if he would find a true spot in a defense. Now, Charger fans are wondering that for different reason.

Rookie Season

Ingram had what would be a fairly promising rookie campaign. He was tied for second on the defense in creating pressure on the quarterback, with plenty of "almost" moments that led fans to believe he was in for big things. He also showed the ability to hold his own against the run in what would wind up being 475 snaps in his first season. With fellow linebackers Shaun Phillips and Antwan Barnes leaving via free agency in 2013, bigger things were expected from Ingram by the new coaching staff.

2013-2014

Unfortunately, when Ingram has been needed the most is when he has been injured. He tore his ACL in May of 2013, and managed to come back and play in limited fashion for the final 4 games of the regular season. the defense played better with Ingram in it, even if he wasn't doing all that much.

In 2014, Ingram played probably the best game of his life against the Seahawks in week 2 before yet another major injury, this time his hip. He missed 7 games before returning in week 11. In the past 2 seasons, he has missed 19 games, and much of the games he did play he was easing back from a major injury. I will be the first one to tell you that the sack stat is overrated, "Super Melvin" has 6 in 3 years. That's not going to cut it.

Looking Forward

The good news is that Ingram has shown some progress, especially towards the end of 2014. He made progress in the run game, as well as a pass rusher who was able to use a variety of moves to get into the backfield. He also had a chance to line up ad different spots along the defensive line successfully. This should remain a big part of his game should he stay healthy.

Ingram is a free agent after the 2015 season. With the exceptional talent available in Free Agency as well as the NFL Draft, the Chargers could already be looking for his eventual replacement. If he plays a full season like he did in the second half of last year, he will prove himself too valuable to let walk.