Many San Diego Chargers fans were ecstatic when pass rusher Melvin Ingram fell to the Bolts in the 2012 NFL Draft. However, with high expectations, Ingram was a disappointment in his rookie season, recording just one sack and only making a handful of impact plays all season.
Ingram played sparingly last year, mainly backing up Shaun Phillips and Jarret Johnson and rotating in on passing downs. With Antwan Barnes now with the New York Jets and Phillips a free agent and not expected back, Ingram will be relied on as the team’s top pass rusher.
If Ingram can’t improve on his one-sack season, San Diego could be in trouble. Phillips recorded 9.5 sacks last season, and his production must be replaced, while Johnson has never been considered a strong pass rusher. The Bolts may not have the luxury of taking a pass rusher early in the upcoming NFL Draft with all the other holes they have to fill and need Ingram to step up.
Last season, Ingram was making the transition from playing 4-3 defensive end in college to 3-4 outside linebacker in San Diego. The learning curve shouldn’t be overlooked, and after a year in the Chargers’ system, he should improve.
Ingram showed flashes of potential in his rookie season. Though he may not have recorded the sacks, Ingram generated plenty of pressure and QB hits. He may not have the ideal frame, brute strength or quick first step that some of the NFL’s top pass rushers have, but he has enough speed, pass rushing moves and relentlessness to get to the quarterback.
Ingram has the raw athleticism to become a fine player for the Bolts. He also has the will to work hard and get better. However, the Chargers and fans won’t be patient and need Ingram to pick it up immediately.