Can Melvin Ingram Be The Next Best Thing Since Shawne Merriman?

Many Chargers fans have fond memories of former pass rusher Shawne Merriman and how he terrorized quarterbacks during his first three seasons in the league. While his downfall and subsequent departure from the team was under less than ideal circumstances, that trio of years (2005 - 07) saw some extreme sack totals put up by Merriman and real on-field intensity. Now fans are turning to a new mid-first round selection with passion in the pass rushing role to try and reenact those successes; Melvin Ingram.

The similarities between Ingram and Merriman are easy to see on the field as “Lights Out” had two inches on Ingram at 6’4” as opposed to his 6’2” frame and their weights are nearly identical as well with Ingram at 264 versus Merriman at 272. The NFL Scouting Combine was where Merriman really burst onto the scene as a physical freak of nature to many scouts in attendance. He ran the 40 yard dash in just 4.68 seconds and put up 25 reps in the bench press. Ingram had a similar combine performance with a time slightly slower than Merriman at 4.79 seconds while his strength was a bit more impressive with 28 reps.

While all of these numbers are fine and show that both players have similar size, stature, and physical abilities, what makes them even close to comparable on the field?

Perhaps the most noticeable attributes and stylistic elements that jump out from tape of either player are the way that each plays with such a low center of gravity. Explosion off of the line of scrimmage is another thing that links the two as both show an uncanny ability to get off on the snap of the ball and shift into full gear immediately in pursuit of the quarterback.

What could really benefit Ingram the most is that the Chargers will be able to utilize him in a very similar fashion to the way Merriman was intergrated into their defense during his rookie season. The team has a nice rotation set up at outside linebacker with Shaun Phillips, Antwan Barnes, Larry English, and newcomer Jarret Johnson who will likely see the majority of the snaps. Ingram will be used as a situational player with one sole role: get after the quarterback.

Following the draft, Head Coach Norv Turner said: “Melvin can be an impact player. He doesn't have to be on the field every down. He can fit in with the mix of the guys we have. He can learn from them. I think he's going to be outstanding on third down. He’s an exceptional player who can do a lot of things. I think he was the most complete linebacker in the draft.” For a player that lined up with his hand in the dirt for the bulk of his collegiate career, that is quite a lofty compliment.

One area that the defense needs some significant improvement on this season is third down where they ranked last in the league allowing opponents to convert 49.2 percent of the time, the worst number in the NFL since 1995. According to coach Turner: “When you're 32nd in the league on third down, it's not one thing. But to me, it starts with pressuring the quarterback, and the other end of it, obviously, is as you're getting pressure, find a way to get enough coverage so the quarterback has to hold onto the ball. We're making a big focus on third down on offense and on defense, and we'll continue to look at ways to get better.”

There was just something about the look that Merriman had once upon a time coming into camp as a rookie with the Bolts. Even after a lengthy holdout, fans had high expectations and saw a great deal of promise in a player that delivered immediately on that potential. With Ingram signing very early after being drafted, he will have even more time to get integrated into the Bolts’ defensive alignment which will raise his chances of success significantly.

What is most endearing about Ingram to Chargers fans is what the team has been missing since Merriman’s decline and eventual exit from San Diego. His humble nature is awfully appealing as well as his comments after the draft said it all: “I've been thanking God a million times just to have the opportunity to be part of a winning organization. I feel I can bring a hard worker who's going to lay it on the line every play for my teammates, who's going to have a relentless effort. I'm going to learn the playbook as soon as possible to get on the field as soon as possible.”

While many rookies bicker over signing bonuses and contract structuring, Ingram held true to his word and got to work as soon as possible. Fans have to be excited to have such a dedicated player who loves the game in camp and ready to work from the start. There is plenty of reason for optimism that Ingram will burst onto the scene as a real force in his rookie season with the Bolts.

Now it’s your turn! Do you think that Ingram can produce Merriman-like stats in year one with the Chargers? Are the similarities between the two players a good thing or a bad thing? Will Ingram’s presence aid the Bolts defense on third down this season? What is the most appealing aspect of Ingram to you? Prediction time: How many sacks do you see Ingram having in his rookie season? Please fill up the comments section below!

July 20, 2012

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Nick in PB said... Jul 20, 2012, 8:45:00 AM

Nice article Anthony! The thing that stands out to me is that we had the worst 3rd down percentage since 1995!!! Holy Sh*t! That's awful. I love the pick of Ingram! I was sitting in my car, about to go into Petco (the store not the park) and I was listening to the draft, waiting for the Chargers to pick. I was hearing how Ingram fell and when the Chargers chose him I screamed like a little girl, beeped my horn and started texting all my buddies! Best 1st round choice in years! Now, I think it would be hard to compare him to Merriman. But the comparisons are inevitable. I think he will be just a shade under Shawn in his career, but his career will last longer and in the long run, be more productive. When Shawn was healthy, he was unstoppable. Melvin, I feel, will be very close to that once he is a full fledged starter. Another thing, I think Shawn had a tendency to play for the limelight... Ingram will just be a football player and he will play to WIN! That to me, is the most intriguing aspect of Ingram. Go BOLTS!!!!

RaiderHater said... Jul 20, 2012, 9:52:00 AM

Screamed like a little girl?? Awesome!!! Uh well anyway.....I was also in total disbelief that the Bolts were able to snag this outstanding true blue football player. He is already showing he has a great character, solid upbringing no doubt, and is ready to learn and grow at whatever the coaches pace is dictated. I give him 1-2 years to blossom into an animal! He will need a fitting nick name by then to go with his expected success...just comparing him to Shawn (when Shawn was Shawn) is a huge compliment. Let's see how the new D-Coach ends up using him and the others in play...yeap Nick we SUCK on holding Teams on 3rd downs. I said it all last times it was just plain embarrassing how poor the D played on obvious plays opponents threw at us. This is a new year, new coach, many new players and perhaps a Stud (in Defense the best are called Studs, on Offense the best are called Stars...FYI) in the making. My guess is Ingram will post 6 sacks in his rookie year...considering he may only be in on certain situations, that would be huge!

Arnie said... Jul 20, 2012, 12:06:00 PM

Do you think that Ingram can produce Merriman-like stats in year one with the Chargers? Before i answer that let's look at things in context. the 3-4 was designed to put more pressure on the QB, with OLB as pass rushers. The linemen ate up blockers. the DB's were to keep coverage. All of these things, working together, put Merriman in positions to be successful. Not to mention Wade Phillips was his DC. My point? Ingram does not have Wade Phillips. The lineman are handled with on-on-one blocks. So, Ingram will see blocks from OT, instead of TE and RB, like Merriman did. The DB's don't keep coverage like they used to. the Chargers are worst on third downs. and the best pass rusher last season, was a backup player from the ravens, that the Chargers were reluctant to sign. and Ingram is supposed to change all this? the young man will be a hero in this town, if he climbs that mountain.

Are the similarities between the two players a good thing or a bad thing?

The similarities on the field are a good thing. But, the differences off it, are even better.

Will Ingram’s presence aid the Bolts defense on third down this season?

It's a wait and see. As i mentioned above Ingram has got a lot to overcome. but using him in situation of third downs, is a start. However, if the Chargers become predictable and use him in "only" those situations, his impact won't be felt. Ingram should be used as much as possible.

What is the most appealing aspect of Ingram to you?

He did not hold out. he signed right away, got to work to make the most of his opportunity.

Prediction time: How many sacks do you see Ingram having in his rookie season? 8. And i'm being very generous. that is not a slight on the young man, but rather seeing what he has to work with on defense.

for what it's worth….

Pete Spinning said... Jul 20, 2012, 9:56:00 PM

I liked Merriman. Sucked that he missed 4 games in 06' for steroids.Then got hurt, and never seemed right after that. Not to mention, he was hanging out with crazy B-hotches at clubs on Thursday nights @ 3am! Remember TilaTequila? He almost caught a case over that business! Still... he was a good Bolt, and busted OUT!

I hope Ingram isn't that flashy. I am looking for him to be the Antonio Gates of our pass rush. Quietly being the best in the game, and on the team. That's the dream player, IMO. Talent & Character. He was raised by his Momma, so it's looking good, so far ; )

The thing I like about Ingram, IS the freakish athleticism! If he's going to be situational this year... then he can get low, and pop-off quick.. And NO quarterback wants to see that coming toward you. Even if he has low sack #'s, I think he'll still pressure the QB, and keep them honest.. which helps our struggling secondary. I mean, Von Miller is his homie, right? At least he's affiliated w/ top NFL talent.

If nothing else... Pagano is in a high pressure role (which I think he's been waiting his whole friggin' life for). At least he has some brand new toys to play with! We managed to hang onto who we needed on defense, and get some new pieces at the positions which needed improvement from. I am still baffled by us not getting a CB of some kind. They must know something we don't. Wasn't there ANYBODY out there that we could've scooped up? Maybe it was really dry... I dunno. Maybe this group will shock us all. I hope they are better than last year. That was bad.

Anyway, I'm painting plays in my head like Vincent Van Gogh, with our new additions on both sides. Blue n' Gold all the way, babay!!!!

Pete Spinning said... Jul 20, 2012, 10:05:00 PM

Nick! Standing by the copier... makin' copies... Nick of time... Nick-a-ding-ding-dong... Nick!

Nice postings, my man. Glad to meet another positive true blue bolt fan. Keep it up, dooder! 2012 season is almost here... sah-weet!

Pete Spinning said... Jul 20, 2012, 10:17:00 PM

FB Hansen... Can ya hear me in the back? I bet you he is TOTALLY into
his Garden Gnomes, and gulping back pitchers of vodka koolaid in a
rocking chair right now, huh Raider Hater? I hope he ain't sick, or
nursing the sick. I miss that curmudgeon. I need someone to
bring me crashing down to earth, when I get too excited about the
season. It's too "eh" in here lately.....knowwhatImean?

Nick in PB said... Jul 21, 2012, 7:58:00 AM

Hey guys... I love being a part of these chats! I really like the articles by Anthony and Rob... good stuff with some opinions that count! Now that the UT has taken to charging on-line readers, and I guess I don't blame them, this is now my home page so boys, you'll have to step it up... more articles!!!!

With that out of the way, I didn't give a prediction on sack numbers but I'd say that somewhere in the neighborhood of what Pete said and what RH said is on the money! I'll take that from a situational starter any day! The thing is, if everyone stays healthy, they could have them coming from everywhere! If Pagano plays his cards right, the opposing offense won't know what's coming or where it's coming from!

Arnie, I'm not sure what you meant by using Ingram as a down lineman on rush situations? Unless you are figuring that on rush situations, he'll be playing with his hands in the dirt and yes, that would be predictable. Lined up as an end? We will see, but now that I think about it, until he learns coverage schemes and such, they may use him that way?

Hey guys, when I look at other sites, nobody is really giving us the credit for our offseason moves! Puzzling. I don't know how many of you get Bleacher Report?

RaiderHater said... Jul 21, 2012, 12:34:00 PM

Ha ha!! Funny stuff....Fbhansen is MIA??!! Maybe in rehab...or converted to the NFC? A once proud Charger fan now inactive...shame really as he was the voice of reasoning....which is ridiculous considering most Bolts fans are borderline crazy..and you can't talk sense to "crazy"!!

Pete Spinning said... Jul 21, 2012, 3:34:00 PM

I go to Bleacher Report. It's a good site, mostly. I take what they say with a grain of salt, of course. Some of the writers for the Bolts almost seem to be undercover Broncos, Chiefs, and Raider fans, at times.. lol. Although, they have some good articles here and there. It gets a little drama in there, though. Lotsa know it alls who tend to shoot you down if you don't agree with the regulars. The regulars will gang up on you, occasionally, and try to make you feel like you don't know what you are talking about.. guess they are football "experts" or something. Other sites I've been to do that, as well. I just post my opinion. However, when people start trash talking, it just shows the maturity level. I have never gotten that feeling in here. RH, and FB are my faves... and you seem pretty cool too.. there is a dude named Triplook who seems to have his head screwed on properly too, so he's cool. Some others I'm forgetting, but it is a mature place to post, and the articles are much more in depth. Even if they don't post as often, the quality is better, IMO. They aren't just posting filler articles every five minutes, which is nice. It's always about football. Not just a bunch of opinions.

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