Melvin Ingram began his rise to stardom while attending Richmond County High School in Hamlet, North Carolina. After a senior season that saw him record 86 tackles and 2.5 sacks, Ingram was regarded as a four-star recruit while being ranked as the No. 21 outside linebacker in the country. He ended up choosing South Carolina over a number o other offers, including his home state’s school, UNC.
Ingram saw the field immediately, playing in 12 games and finishing with 15 tackle and a single sack in 12 games. One of the crazier stats that you’ll see from his time at SC is that he returned five kickoffs for a total of 90 yards, which is a 18-yard average for a guy playing linebacker.
Tragedy struck him prior to his sophomore season when he suffered a foot injury that would keep him out for the year. Like the normal Mel we all know, he fought and clawed his way back for the 2009 season where he recorded another start and played in all 13 games. He finished with just 18 tackles, 3.5 for loss, and 1.5 sacks.
Ingram broke out as a one-game starter during the 2010 season when he record nine sacks and 11 tackles-for-loss while playing in all 14 games. That set up his senior year to have high expectations. While starting every game in 2011, Ingram recorded career-highs across the board with 48 tackles, 15 tackles-for-loss, and 10 sacks with two interceptions and a pair of pass breakups.
Oh, and he took a fake punt for a 68-yard rushing touchdown. This is when people started to realize Ingram could do it all on a football field.
At the combine, Ingram came in a little under 6’2 and weighed 264 pounds. Here are his testing results:
- 40: 4.79
- Short shuttle: 4.18
- 3-Cone: 6.83 (This is ELITE)
- VerticalL 34 1⁄2 in.
- Broad: 9’1 in.
- Bench Press: 28 reps
Those numbers helped solidify his standing as a first-round draft pick and the Chargers made it happen with the 18th-overall selection of that year’s event.
Since becoming a Charger, Ingram has played in 106 games with 89 starts. During the 2015 and 2017 seasons, he set and tied his career-high of 10.5 sacks while registering a high mark of 65 tackles in ‘15. He’s also registered 26 pass deflections, which is an impressive number for a pass rusher.
From 2017-2019, Ingram was named to three-straight Pro Bowls while recording an average of eight sacks and 12 tackles-for-loss per season in that span.
In 2020, Ingram reported to camp but refused to participate in practices until his contract, which guaranteed no money at the time, was adjusted to put some money in the veteran’s pocket. He was successful as the team guaranteed his entire $14 million base salary this season.
College: South Carolina
Years with team: 8
“Melvin Ingram signed a 4 year, $64,000,000 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including a $10,500,000 signing bonus, $34,000,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $16,000,000. In 2020, Ingram will earn a base salary of $14,000,000, while carrying a cap hit of $16,625,000 and a dead cap value of $16,625,000.” - Spotrac.com
Ever since high school, Ingram has been known as an athletic freak. One of his career-defining moments was at South Carolina where he took a fake punt 68 yards for a touchdown...at 276 pounds. Yeah, that’s real.
After re-shaping his body, Ingram became one of the best pure finesse rushers in the NFL. He’s not a technician, as he’s said before, but he wins with simply being a better athlete than the guy tasked with blocking him. His best move in his pass-rush arsenal is his spin move, which has become extremely efficient in recent years.
The coaching staff believes in Ingram’s athletic ability so much that they’ve actually used him as a free safety before. Go back to the week one matchup against the Chiefs in 2018. He starts near the line of scrimmage and before the snap he makes a bee line for the deep middle. I don’t think you can name one other player who’s been given that same opportunity.
He pairs extremely well with teammate Joey Bosa coming off the edge, and when you put both of them on the same side? Forget about it. There’s almost nothing an opposing team can do to keep them from getting to the quarterback.
While still one of the better pass rushers in the NFL, Ingram hasn’t quite met expectations, especially for someone who is getting paid as much as he is. In both of 2018 and 2019, Ingram’s tackle and sack totals have been his lowest since the 2014 season. He did only play 9 games that year, but his pace would have been on track to finish with better numbers than the last two seasons. He’s impactful, don’t get me wrong, but being able to finish sacks and showing up a bit more consistently would go a long ways for him.
Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2020?
Ingram will be the Chargers’ starter at the LEO position opposite Joey Bosa on the defensive line. After some uncertainty regarding his future status with the team to begin training camp, Ingram “secured the bag” and got his entire $14 million base salary guaranteed in what could be his final season with the Bolts.