San Diego Chargers need Melvin Ingram to step up in 2013

By Kenny Gardner
Melvin Ingram San Diego Chargers
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Chargers chose Melvin Ingram with the 18th pick in round one of last year’s NFL Draft. Ingram had one sack and a forced fumble in 16 games, which included one start last season.

San Diego needs Ingram to be more productive in 2013 because Shaun Phillips, who led the team with 9.5 sacks last season in 16 starts at outside linebacker, signed a contract with the Denver Broncos. In 2011, the Lighting Bolts ranked 23rd in sacks, but they were tied for 11th last season due to having a healthy Phillips, which the team did not have in 2011.

Ingram was converted from defensive end to OLB in San Diego’s 3-4 defense.  This was more than likely done because at 265 pounds, Ingram would be an undersized NFL DE.

San Diego needs Ingram to be more productive in 2013 because Jarret Johnson made 15 starts at OLB last season and had 1.5 sacks.  Johnson is a solid veteran, but he is not a pass rusher at this point in his career. Johnson’s career-high in sacks was six with the Baltimore Ravens in 2009.

The Chargers lost cornerback Antoine Cason in free agency and lack depth at this position, so their pass rush needs to make up for a secondary that will more than likely decline. If San Diego puts pressure on quarterbacks, it will prevent them from hitting receivers and tight ends in stride when guys are beat in coverage.

Ingram had nine sacks in 2010 and followed this up with 10 sacks in 2011 when he made an All-SEC First-Team. This does not mean that Ingram’s success in college will translate to success in the NFL, but he has to be more of a factor in 2013 than he was in his rookie season.

I expect Ingram to be one of San Diego’s starters at OLB and his ability to put pressure on quarterbacks could be the key to San Diego being dominant on defense again.

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