Sunday, March 25, 2012

Imagining Melvin Ingram

The Seahawks own the #12 overall selection in the upcoming NFL draft. Signing Matt Flynn, Red Bryant, Jason Jones, Marshawn Lynch, Breno Giacomini, and Paul McQuistan has left the team with the luxury of picking the best player that falls to them. This series will explore some possible selections, and how they could impact the team.


DE Melvin Ingram
OG David DeCastro
MLB Luke Kuechly
DE Courtney Upshaw
LB Lavonte David

Rob Rang Profile of Melvin Ingram

WHAT DOES HE BRING?
Ingram appears to be the best pure pass rusher in the draft. If his arms were 2-3 inches longer and/or he was 2-3 inches taller, he'd be a certain Top 5 selection. The jokes about his "T-Rex" arms and in-between measurables make it possible that he could slide to the Seahawks. Length is seen as a key factor in determining whether a college pass rusher can translate to an NFL pass rusher where offensive tackles regularly stand 6'5" or taller and can push most edge rushers right past the quarterback. Watch Ingram in pass rush drills, or in a game, and it becomes clear that he finds the quarterback on instinct, not a physical measurement. He effortlessly swims outside, spins inside, and clubs his way around offensive lineman. He can play inside or outside, and some even project him as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Quinton Coples is considered the prototype defensive end, but Ingram crushes him on every down effort and natural football instincts. Coples could be great if he cared. Ingram cares to be great.

BEST-CASE SCENARIO
Ingram has the tools to be the Defensive Rookie Of The Year if he is given the chance to rush the passer regularly and play in a rotation. Registering 10+ sacks in his first season would not be a shock, and he could become the heir apparent to Chris Clemons at the LEO spot by next year. Coupling Ingram's ability to rush for the edge with Jason Jones' ability to penetrate inside and Clemons coming from the opposite side could completely transform the Seahawks pass rush package. Ingram swinging inside to work with Jones can also work if someone like Dexter Davis emerges as a rush end. It would not be out of the realm of possibilities to see Clemons, Jones and Ingram combine to challenge the Seahawks team total of 33 sacks last season. Scoring Ingram would also allow the team to focus on linebacker, running back, and quarterback in later rounds.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO
Ingram is not going to fail in the NFL. He could wind up as a more limited pass rusher due to the being overwhelmed physically by NFL lineman. Imagine a player like Darryl Tapp, who gives everything on each down, but fails to dominate. Ingram is a more natural pass rusher than Tapp, so where Tapp nets 2-5 sacks per year, Ingram's floor is probably 4-8 sacks per year. He would still be a valuable member of the defense, but would not be a starter, and would be more complimentary. This would leave the team in a bind next season when Clemons hits free agency at an age the Seahawks would be unlikely to pay him top dollar for his services. Seattle would be back at square one in terms of finding their future LEO. 

2 comments :

Kip Earlywine said...

A couple of years ago, I wrote a scouting report for Russell Okung at Seahawks draft blog. One thing I will never forget from scouting his games was that every time a defensive end attacked Okung's body, it was game over for that pass rusher. Game over, just like that. Okung's freakish 36" arms were an enormous advantage. If he got his arms inside, he could block the pass rusher for 10 seconds if need be. And he made it look sooooo easy too. Needless to say, I loved that pick, and I'd say that injuries aside, its worked out great so far.

So why am I talking about Okung in a post about Melvin Ingram? I've almost scouted enough games of Ingram now to write a scouting report for him, and when Ingram attempts to attack tackles head on or otherwise lets them get their arms inside, its game over. Just about every tackle Ingram faced at the college level might as well have been Russell Okung, because that's how badly Ingram lost at handfighting on a consistent basis. When he measured 31" arms at the combine (which is very short), I wasn't surprised at all. Arm length matters just as much for DEs as it does for tackles, and the player with the longer arms usually wins on plays arms factor in the outcome- which is most snaps.

Now, it is possible to overcome short arm length as a DE- and a great example of that is Courtney Upshaw. His arms are only 32", but they are super strong and Upshaw flashes fantastic arm technique. Like Ingram, Upshaw often loses the arm battle initially, but he has an uncanny ability to out arm wrestle the tackle in a second or two and break free into the backfield. By contrast, Ingram really struggles to separate and reset after losing the initial arm battle, and as a result he is a complete non-factor in most of his snaps. This is why many evaluators are now saying that Ingram should not be drafted as a typical 4-3 DE but in a more diverse role, preferably as a 3-4 OLB where he will be put in situations where he can blitz and edge rush more.

I was also a little disappointed in Ingram's hustle- he'd often jog in pursuit when a sprinting pursuit could have resulted in a tackle. I would probably even draft Coples over Ingram at this point, since Coples had (IMO) a legit excuse for his effort level last year and he has the measurables of a dominant DE.

Ingram truly is a top 10 pick as an athlete. If Upshaw and Coples are gone, Seattle would almost certainly draft Ingram. According to Rob Staton's source, Ingram "has his fans" in Seattle's front office. If forced to, Seattle will draft Ingram and find a way to hide his weakness and maximize his strengths as much as possible.

Maybe arm length won't be a big deal. Maybe Carroll can work around it to a degree with clever coaching and scheming. But until I see Ingram consistently getting off blocks or get better at avoiding them, I can't endorse the guy with a clean conscience. At least Darryl Tapp created constant pressure. In all the games I watched, Ingram struggled to even do that.

Belovedson said...

i agree with kip. i think the way he get's swallowed up by college lineman doesn't bode well for ingram when he transitions to the nfl. where players are even bigger faster, smarter.

i think we are missing on the key part of drafting a de. we need a player that forces the qb to make decisions he is not comfortable making and this does not always mean sacks.