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A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Dallas Cowboys Potential 2012 Draft Pick: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

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Jonathan Bales

I created a stir a couple days ago by arguing that Alabama outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw is just a second or even third-round talent.  I really don’t care that no other expert (<— Did I just refer to myself as an expert?) rates him that poorly and that he’s projected to go in the top half of the first round. . .I simply don’t see an elite pass-rusher.  With the No. 14 overall pick and the Cowboys’ current needs, the team better get an elite edge rusher if they look to the outside linebacker spot with their first selection.

Is South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram that player?  I spent the morning watching the majority of his 2010 and 2011 games, and I came away impressed.  Here’s why Ingram is a superior prospect to Upshaw. . .

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Scouting Report

Melvin Ingram is an athlete.  At 276 pounds, he moves like a tight end.  He was on South Carolina’s hands team, which should tell you all you need to know.  The video below doesn’t show his pass rush repertoire much, but you can see his freakish athleticism.

When I posted my scouting report on Upshaw, some readers commented that my qualms with his height were unwarranted.  Lamar Woodley and Elvis Dumervil are shorter players who have thrived at the next level despite smaller frames, and Upshaw may very well be one of those players.  My issue with Upshaw is not simply that he is short and has only 31″ arms, but that he’s short and hasn’t turned in impressive film (in my view).  I actually think shorter, slower, less-physically-impressive prospects who can simply play football often provide the most value, as their shortcomings (HA!) cause them to drop further than they should.  Short arms are a red flag, but if a pass rusher can thrive despite a lack of length, his low draft spot can be a blessing for whoever selects him.

The biggest evidence that I don’t downgrade players simply because of a single measurement is today’s feature.  At 6’2” with 31″ arms, Ingram has pretty much the same frame as Upshaw.  What I saw from Ingram on film, though, is an explosive player with versatility and the ability to dominate in all aspects of the game.

For evidence of Ingram’s explosiveness, check out the 1:07 mark below.  He doesn’t record the sack, but he covers a ton of ground and gets to the quarterback from the defensive tackle position.  At the 1:55 mark, he shows his quickness, setting up the offensive tackle and reaching the passer in a hurry.  Ingram isn’t all about finesse, though, and actually uses a bull rush quite often.  At the 2:25 mark, you can see just how powerful he can be.  From an interior position, he wards off two blockers, splitting them for the sack.

That strength gives Ingram the ability to be a dominant run defender.  He uses his hands extremely well, disengaging from blockers to tackle the ball-carrier.  He maintains leverage in tight spaces, thriving against the run whether he is in the interior or outside.  The last play below shows his strength and ability to work in tight areas.

My biggest issue with Ingram right now is getting off of the ball.  In almost every clip, you can see he is late off of the snap.  Don’t confuse this for a lack of explosiveness, though.  Once Ingram starts moving, he covers a ton of ground in a hurry.  I expect his 10-yard split and short shuttle to be outstanding.  To me, getting off of the snap (in terms of reacting to it) can be taught, but the quickness of the actual first step cannot.  Ingram has the requisite quickness, but he needs to improve his reaction time.  If he can do that, watch out.

Some people might have concerns with Ingram’s size, projecting him as a 4-3 defensive end without 3-4 versatility.  I don’t see that.  Ingram is on the heavy side for a 3-4 backer, but that means the Cowboys wouldn’t lose anything in terms of run defense if he takes over for Anthony Spencer. . .and I can assure you Ingram will help out the defense as a pass-rusher far more than Spencer.

Projection

Ingram figures to go in that “gray area” after Dallas’ No. 14 selection but before their second-round pick.  He could very well rise before draft day, as he figures to post some impressive numbers.  Still, a lot of teams will worry about his height and arm length.  His most likely draft spot is in the late teens or early 20s.

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13 Responses to Dallas Cowboys Potential 2012 Draft Pick: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

  1. T.J. says:

    I absolutely agree with you. I have been telling everyone that Ingram makes the most sense for us at 14. He is arguably the most versatile player in the first round and will be a standout wherever you decide to put him. Especially in this Rob Ryan scheme that thrives on versatility.

    He was 4th on his team in total touchdowns last season, he ran a fake punt in 68 yards for a touchdown on offense, and he was on Steve Spurrier’s hands team. All of this while still having 10.5 sacks and forced fumbles, high tackles, ect. He played QB, TE, and RB in high school too…

    I don’t see any of the corners having more upside than him, and DeCastro seems like he won’t be nearly as dominant as people think considering he did not have to deal with SEC defenses some of the other guards had to.

    Melvin Ingram should be a Dallas Cowboy next season. If I were the coaches I might even try him out on offense at some point. Try to make him a 2 or 3 way player just because he will be that dominant.

  2. Vince_Grey says:

    I like Ingram a lot. Unlike Upshaw, he didn’t play on a defense loaded with top level talent at virtually every position AND on the bench. Assuming his stock stays about where it is (Mid-20′s) this is the kind of player I could see Dallas trading down, say, 6-8 spots, picking up an extra second or third, and taking number one. Again though, I really, really want to see the combine stuff before locking in on anyone.

    BTW, IMO his larger size is a plus, because I hear more and more talk about the Cowboys playing more 4-3 as their base defense, which is my preference all along, and he might be able to play LDE in a 4-3 if Dallas can get some big DT’s.

  3. Rick says:

    You realize that none of his biggest plays (particularly that touchdown on the punt fake) will ever happen in the NFL?

  4. Rick says:

    And I see no evidence that he has the quickness, mobility, or fluidity to play outside linebacker in a 3-4. If a highlight reel of a few lucky picks does that for you… well I don’t really know what to say.

  5. Mont Seventeen says:

    I watched the Senior Bowl practices and couldn’t tell the 2 apart at first glance… I liked his interview, he is a likable and humble kinda guy. At 14 I just hope 1 of the 2 will be there bc we all know they both have the potential to lock up Top 10 picks with a stellar combine.

    It would be nice to have a guy that can kick inside on the nickle rush and get constant pressure like a Justin Tuck. I could care less ab his ability as an outside LB opposite Ware, no one in this draft will take a teams focus off Ware. So therefore you need guys that can make plays away from Ware.

    You can get just about anyone to run the arch to the QB, but what separates every dominate passrush is the ability of the inside guys.

    Yes that’s easier said than done but I think Ingram is that guy!

  6. john coleman says:

    Interesting points of view across the board. Unlike JB, I do downgrade guys that are 6-2 and have short arms. Another problem for me is the use of potential in describing a 1st rd prospect. IMO if we are talking 1st rd and potential in the same sentence, then we’re not talking 1st rd. I do agree that Ingram is WAAAY more explosive than Upshaw. However he is consistently slow getting off the ball. Unless a team has a plan B view of either of these guys, it’s a risk. By plan B, I mean 2 positions they think he could play.

    Someone mentioned trading down several spots and selecting Ingram. I favor the trade down thing for sure, but question that the GREAT talent falls. Kinda silly, don’t you think. TRUTH is that there are 6-10 legit 1st rdrs year after year and a BUNCH of potential guys who get 1st rd grades because someone has to be 10-32. In a trade down scenario would people honestly take a 6-2 260-270 potential player, over the only NT in the draft(Poe 6-5 350). I’m thinking Poe goes at around 25 to 28.

    While I respect the thougths of the experts and the comments here as well, I still believe that the longer guys, say 6-5, are the trend. The length and the long arms just help with keeping guys off and range. For example, I favor guys in the 6-1 to 6-3 range at CB and FS/SS. Ultimately you just can’t teach size and length. Dline(6-4 to 6-8), 3-4 OLB (6-4 to 6-6), ILB(6-4 to 6-5,especially in drop coverage) and DBs as stated above. Concerning ILBs, the length is a nicety not a necessity. Sean Lee is not long and is a good ILB.

  7. john coleman says:

    Let me add that I too, will be watching the combine closely. I just feel this years draft class is full of average talent.

    Ingram does deserve props for being a standout on a defense with mediocre talent in the SEC.

  8. moses says:

    Ingram did not look like he had a big impact in the game.
    Coples looked a lot more effective and that is with him getting held a lot during the game. However, Coples does not seem to have a lot of intensity.

    Rather have Coples if he can be motivated.

  9. valmont says:

    here’s a good test for yourself.

    before the combine guess how the marquee defensive players are going to perform. i.e. vertical jumps, short shuttle times, etc.

    see if actual results are consistent with the ‘scouting’.

  10. Mont Seventeen says:

    I agree on Coples… If we were the Ravens or the Pats, I would be stoked ab drafting Coples but if he slacked off his Senior year what’s he going to do in Dallas with Jerry cake and guys like Spears in his ear.

    After watching the Senior bowl I’m convinced Mike Adams the LT is the way to go round 1… If that includes trading down, so be it, Jerry sucks at drafting late anyway. But when you finish 8-8 you should be able to add 2 or 3 starters from the draft.

    The a cpl of ACC players caught my eye was the passrusher from Virgina and the MLB from FSU.. I think there are some great LT prospects, Osemele looks like a Jerry pick… As well as the kid from Troy.

    But adding a LT is not Jerrys style, this teams decision makers are not proactive… they wait until they are driving metal on metal b4 they make a change. Meaning Doug Free will have to get owned at RT for 2 seasons, b4 they move him to OG.

    Romo fans will demand Doug Free’s head next season but Jerry pride will not allow his LT of the future play OG unless its completely obvious…

  11. Omar says:

    I have some disagreements here, although I do like Melvin Ingram. My biggest disagreement is here:

    “Some people might have concerns with Ingram’s size, projecting him as a 4-3 defensive end without 3-4 versatility. I don’t see that. Ingram is on the heavy side for a 3-4 backer, but that means the Cowboys wouldn’t lose anything in terms of run defense if he takes over for Anthony Spencer.”

    No, that’s not at all what it means. If he’s that big and slow getting off the ball maybe they’ll lose something if a running back can just neutralize him with a counter or a juke. Just being big, in it of itself doesn’t make you a good run defender. You actually have to be able to hold the edge and make a move to get to the runner. He’s better than Upshaw and has the potential to be better than Spencer, but I don’t think that’s a guarantee. Furthermore if he is better than Spencer, how much better would he need to be to make a tangible difference in wins and losses?

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