04/30/2012 - A closer look at the Chargers' picks: Round 1/18 - Melvin Ingram, OLB, 6-1, 195, South Carolina...Eager to find someone to disrupt opposing quarterbacks, the Chargers were ecstatic to get their mitts on Ingram after he tumbled down the board. Ingram has the versatility that allows him to line up in various spots, although the Chargers are eyeing him as a situational pass-rusher, at least in the early stages of next year. He will be given every chance to see the field quickly. - The Sports Xchange
Melvin Ingram might want to send a personal thank you note to Giants general manager Jerry Reese for the slew of teams who are spending extra hours breaking down his game film. It only takes one to see his upside and draft him significantly higher than he might have gone just a few years ago.
The Giants have gained admirers around the NFL for their ability to stockpile versatile pass rushers and race after quarterbacks on passing downs. Pun intended, they call it their "NASCAR" package when All-Pro defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul slides inside to get Osi Umenyiora on the field. Linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka is another quarterback hunter who sees time up front as a pass rusher.
In a copycat league, the Giants have also drawn a blueprint for teams to look hard at athletes who can flat-out get after the passer. Get them in camp and figure out where to play them later.
Ingram fits that mold - a versatile athlete who can lineup outside either tackle, move to tackle on third down and rush the passer standing up inside or off the edge. And coming off a strong senior season in which he led the Gamecocks with 13.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks, he's one of the most coveted pass rushers in this draft.
His combination of strength, leverage and speed has scouts for 3-4 teams also taking a close look at Ingram as a potential edge rushing linebacker. Picking up coverage technique is always the biggest challenge for ends making the transition, but Ingram was recruited as a linebacker, didn't move to end until his sophomore year and still saw time there in certain packages. He had a pair of interceptions last season and was part of South Carolina's "hands team" on kickoffs.
"I've been working at linebacker and defensive end the whole time I've been training," said Ingram, who called playing linebacker "second nature to me.
"It really don't matter (where I play). As long as I'm on the football field."
Ingram met with 3-4 and 4-3 base teams at the Scouting Combine, and said his biggest assets are simply his athletic ability and relentless desire to be around the ball.
And to those who are concerned about his lone season as a true standout in college?
"Just coming in, being in a situation where there was somebody else better than me. I had to play my role on the team," said Ingram. "I did whatever the team needed me to do. At that point and time it wasn't for me to be a starter."
Pass rush: Flashes the closing speed, hustle, and quick hands to beat tackles on the edge. Also fakes outside rush, cuts to inside lane with hands and quickness for direct path. Lines up inside in passing situations, uses quickness to get under pads of guards. Spins off blocks to reach quarterbacks stepping up into the pocket or trying to run. Runs through tight ends with leverage and strength. Gets most sacks on secondary rushes, lacks elite quickness to win initial battle against better linemen. Occasionally displays flexibility to turn the corner. Flashes good agility and change of direction when staying in front of ballcarriers in space and dropping into zone coverage. Must prove he can stay with running backs in the flat when at linebacker.
Run defense: Uses low center of gravity and thick upper body to play with leverage against the run game. Holds his ground well whether lined up with his hand down or standing up. Can split double team to penetrate and make the tackle. Often spins off to reach ballcarriers running to either side instead of shock-and-shed on the edge. Most tight ends will not handle him one-on-one.
Explosion: Very inconsistent coming off the snap as a pass rusher, sometimes pressing his man up the field but often being among the last to move. Provides some pop into blockers, jolting and getting under taller tackles' pads to push them backwards.
Strength: Possesses the upper-body strength to play man-up with NFL linemen with his hand on the ground or standing up. Handles most college tight ends on the edge. Flashes hands strong enough to rip off blocks to attack ballcarriers, but must be more consistent to become a true playmaker at the next level. Does not maintain his anchor if turned by better tackles in the hole.
Tackling: Relies on his strength, arm length, and strong hits to stop SEC running backs and quarterbacks in their tracks. Flashes good change of direction ability in space to corral ballcarriers. Leaves his feet and lowers his shoulder too often, though, must wrap to consistently bring down NFL ballcarriers.
Intangibles: Has not yet been a starter at the collegiate level. No known character or work ethic problems. One of five players involved in campus fracas with non-football players in September 2008, no one was charged. Redshirted 2008 season after breaking his foot in an off-the-field incident. Suffered a broken left hand early against Vanderbilt in 2010 but returned to the contest and did not miss any games.