As we approach 2017 free agency, I'd like to try and analyze some of the potential targets for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Pictures are worth a thousand words, so I will be conducting my analysis primarily through the use of a few GIFs.
This week, we'll be discussing Los Angeles Chargers linebacker and defensive end Melvin Ingram (No. 54) -- currently 27 years old and listed at 6'2" and 247 pounds. Out of South Carolina, Ingram was selected in the 2012 NFL Draft as the No. 18 overall pick, playing at defensive end and all linebacker positions.
Ingram’s career got off to a slow start, as he wasn’t particularly impressive in his rookie year. He then tore his ACL during 2013 OTAs, but managed to return for the last four games of the season. A hip injury forced the Chargers to put Ingram on injured reserve (designated to return) in Week 3 of the 2014 season. Ingram returned in Week 11 to finish out the season.
Since then, he has strung together back-to-back healthy seasons. He’s displayed an explosion in production over 2015 and 2016 -- averaging 9.25 sacks, 5.5 passes defensed, and 49 tackles. With the Los Angeles Chargers rumored to be moving on from him, Ingram enters free agency as one of the league’s premier pass rushers.
During my brief analysis of his 2016 season, I found that Ingram has exceptional pass-rushing ability for a linebacker. Because of his smaller size and athleticism, he’s often able to quickly move around slower offensive linemen. Ingram possesses a variety of pass-rushing moves that he uses to get to the quarterback. We will go over a few of those moves in the clips below. He also displays a good backpedal and decent short-area man-coverage skills, when used at the traditional linebacker positions. While he’s not a zone-coverage guy, you can match him on a tight end or running back without worrying.
Melvin Ingram doesn’t come without his flaws however. Due to his smaller frame, Ingram’s bull rush is fairly ineffective. He also has a tendency to get bullied by offensive linemen when attempting to defend the run from the line of scrimmage. These issues seem to come with the territory of acquiring a player with the size of a linebacker, who likes playing in the trenches. Ingram is not a sure tackler and can, at times, take bad angles of pursuit. I’ve highlighted some of his whiffed tackles in the clips below.
Finally, based on limited ‘film study’, I think Ingram is an instinctive player but not necessarily a cerebral player. He’s at his best when he’s playing free and reacting to his instincts. You don’t want this guy going through decision trees at a linebacker spot. In Madden terms, the play recognition is not there. Rushing the quarterback or mirroring a tight end in coverage -- fine. Reading the quarterback in zone coverage or deciding which gap to fill -- not so fine.
And without further ado, let’s get to the GIFs…
As I mentioned above, Ingram is susceptible to whiffing on tackles and being unable to wrap up. In the clips below, you’ll see as he struggles with both of these issues.
On this play, Ingram sniffs out the run. He gets behind the pulling tackle and takes a good angle at Devontae Booker. Unfortunately, he can’t wrap up on the tackle and misses an opportunity for a tackle for a loss.
The Chargers loved playing Ingram at middle linebacker in goal-line situations. Here, he fills the hole that DeMarco Murray attempts to use. But he’s unable to make the tackle, as Murray bounces outside for the touchdown.
Melvin beats Laremy Tunsil with a nasty spin move. Then he flies through the air like Superman… if Superman couldn’t tackle.
Melvin Ingram has an arsenal of pass-rush moves at his disposal, which is rare for a linebacker. There are a good amount of defensive ends that can’t even execute these moves. Spins, rips, and stunts… oh my!
Look who it is! Soon-to-be Jaguars left tackle Branden Albert! Ingram turns the edge and blows by him for the easy sack and forced fumble on Ryan Tannehill.
Here, Ingram uses the spin move on Donovan Smith and leaves him in the dirt. Then he uses his speed to chase Jameis Winston to the sideline.
On this play, he stunts as the corner blitzes. Though he doesn’t get the sack, he drives Brock Osweiler out of the pocket and nearly into the arms of Corey Liuget.
Wait a second… is this an old-school head slap?! Unfortunately, he gives the right tackle enough time to recover from the move. Otherwise, Deacon Jones would’ve been very proud.
The Little Guy
Usually the smallest guy on the line of scrimmage, Melvin Ingram doesn’t tend to overpower other linemen. He’s not winning against a guard or tackle once they lock onto him. This leads to him getting bullied in the run and a rather weak bull rush.
On this play, the tight end pushes him back and the left tackle keeps him from getting back into the play. Devontae Booker runs off-tackle for an easy touchdown.
Ingram tries to hit the right tackle with a speed and power move. The rush is negated almost instantly, as he gets thrown aside.
Instinctive Not Cerebral
The first two clips below show that Melvin Ingram is an instinctive player. In each of the plays, he notices something happening and reacts accordingly. The third and fourth GIF show what can happen if you require him to make too many in-play decisions.
Ingram sees Alex Smith eyeing down his back in the flats. When Smith goes to pass, Melvin’s hands automatically shoot up to deflect the ball. Jahleel Addae is the benefactor, turning the deflected pass into a 91-yard pick-six.
Cam Newton goes for the play-action pass here. Ingram quickly sets the edge to blow up Johnathan Stewart, before continuing his rush on Newton once he realizes.
Here, Ingram is lined up at middle linebacker and completely forgets that fullback is a position in football. He quickly runs to the running back's anticipated outside hole without ever looking at Derek Carr or Jamize Olawale.
Oh, the read-option… is that a thing?
And that’s all I have for you -- another week, another free agent analysis. Should the Jaguars pursue Melvin Ingram in free agency? If so, how will they utilize him and Dante Fowler on passing downs (assuming that Fowler wants to rush from a two-point stance)? Thanks again for reading everyone, and please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.
I’ll keep trying to put out one of these articles weekly. I’ve decided that I’m going to stick to defensive players in the front seven. Also, it might be best for me to stick to offensive line, quarterback, and running back on the offensive side. Wide receivers and secondary players are difficult to analyze with highlights alone, as they are often off-screen. And the plays that do get captured are often very biased in one way or another, due to the nature of highlights. Please let me know if you have any suggestions for next week’s free agent! Thanks!