Two highly rated SEC pass rushers. Two prospects that make a lot of sense for the Seahawks in round one. So who has the edge?
There are similarities between the pair, especially with the role they’d take in Seattle. I think the Seahawks are looking for a compliment to Chris Clemons, and that’ll mean someone who can play as a 3-4 linebacker in certain looks and feature as an orthodox pass rusher in 4-3 sets. This is a hybrid defense and it could become even more so in 2012. Using Clemons as a specialist LEO has brought production in his two years with the team, but the Seahawks know they need more. Jason Jones will help as a situational three-technique, but it’s also about finding a greater presence off the edge. Upshaw and Ingram fit the bill perfectly as scheme diverse players who can also get to the quarterback. And that’s the key thing here, the Seahawks need to improve their pass rush more than anything else in the first round of the draft.
Being able to play multiple positions will be vital and it’s what seperates these two prospects from some of the other highly graded first round defensive lineman. Upshaw has experience in Alabama’s hybrid scheme and was asked to work underneath coverage, rush inside, beat the edge and provide a high level of run support. He’s very comfortable working in space and although he’s a little too stiff to take on full-time linebacker duties, he’ll become a real force in run defense and provide a high-motor pass rushing compliment opposite Clemons. Ingram similarly has experience in different roles having featured at both defensive end and tackle for South Carolina and also taking on some minor coverage duties when lining up outside. Versatility will be necessary for Ingram because he won’t lock down one side of an offensive line and he too often struggled with double teams when rushing the the interior. However, by moving him around frequently to keep blockers guessing he could have some success as a pass rusher.
There are also key differences too. Upshaw doesn’t have Ingram’s athleticism but he more than makes up for it with a complete mastery of leverage and upper/lower body power. He’s the superior player reading in space and will consistently diagnose, react and execute. Upshaw’s a pure football player who thrives on competition and will likely have a quick impact in the NFL. Ingram’s superior speed could potentially make him a greater threat off the edge and his spin-move will trick pro-lineman just as much as it did those in the college ranks. He needs to do a better job with his hands and too often struggles to disengage, but Pete Carroll likes rare athleticism and players who are a little different. Ingram showed with his assortment of highlight reel plays last year that while he’s far form a polished, orthodox pass rusher – he’s capable of having a big impact in the SEC. And who knows, maybe we’ll see him take the occasional fake punt to the house…
Although there’s a lot of talk right now about prospects such as Luke Kuechly and David DeCastro, it wouldn’t surprise me if Upshaw and Ingram were 1a and 1b on Seattle’s board of realistic targets. Will either be there at #12? It’s far from a lock, but it’s possible. And although there’s a lot of mixed opinions about these two players, don’t expect either to make it past the top-16.
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