Is Melvin Ingram ready to take the next step and become a consistent staple of the San Diego Chargers’ defense?
The San Diego Chargers drafted Melvin Ingram with the 18th overall pick in the 2012 draft, despite concerns over his arm length. He has shown flashes of why the Chargers chose the former South Carolina Gamecock.
However, after his rookie campaign where he started two games out of the 16 he appeared in, he missed almost the entire 2013 season with a torn ACL, and again missed time during the 2014 season with a hip injury.
During his four seasons in the NFL, Ingram has amassed 143 tackles, 16.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles, having his best statistical season last year where he recorded 10.5 sacks and 65 tackles, while starting all 16 games.
Last year’s 10.5 sacks placed him tied for 12th among all defensive players in the NFL, however his 65 tackles placed him tied for 121st among all defensive players, and behind teammates Manti Te’o, Eric Weddle and rookie linebacker Denzel Perryman.
His injury history and lack of consistent play, mixed with his exponential boost in play at the midpoint of the 2015 season leaves many confused, and Ingram understands the frustrations.
“I ain’t showed nothing,” he told the San Diego Union-Tribune after last Tuesday’s practice. Also stating, “I have so much to show.”
Ingram has all the tools necessary to succeed. He is strong, quick and agile, he can shed defenders, he is everything you look for in an edge rusher, and over the years his role in the defense has become more defined. But, Ingram is coming into his contract year, and the consensus is that the time is now to live up to his first-round hype, and show consistency, or part ways with the organization.
When asked what he expects from himself this upcoming 2016 season Ingram told the San Diego Union-Tribune, “It ain’t even started.”
“You ain’t even seen what I got going on. When the season starts, everyone is going to see. It’s fixing to get real.”
Ingram seems fully confident coming into the 2016 season, and I believe it will be one for the books. He will continue to build on the successes of his 2015 season, and have the opportunity to pick up where he left off after his first fully healthy season.
Key additions Joey Bosa and Brandon Mebane will help disrupt offenses and cause confusion along the line of scrimmage, providing Ingram with the opportunity to wreak havoc in the backfield. Ingram’s success, along with the encouraging play of the Chargers’ linebackers, should also benefit the secondary.
It’s up to Ingram to prove his worth and take that next step many fans know he’s capable of taking.
I predict he’ll finish the 2016 season with 11.5 sacks and 88 combined tackles.