Melvin Ingram tape review vs Nebraska

When I posted a critical view on Melvin Ingram last week, it instigated a heated debate as to whether he fits into Seattle’s scheme. Clearly, a lot of people out there like the guy enough to draft him with the #11 or #12 pick. I’m not one of those people, but so far it’s been a health discussion. By all accounts Ingram had a fine work out at the Senior Bowl and his stock is gaining momentum. I suspect he’ll get a sack or two in the game on Saturday. He’s a pin your ears back type of pass rusher, a guy who may be ineffective and even frustrating for three quarters of the game but will then makes a sack or two late on.

While the Seahawks want to improve their largely anaemic pass rush, I can only see Ingram in a diluted role. Seattle has only one reliable pass rusher who has performed consistently well in the last two years and that’s Chris Clemons. While he is a free agent in 2013 and already 30-years-old, finding a long term replacement is not an absolute necessity at this point. The Seahawks need to find a compliment to Clemons, not a replacement. Pete Carroll testified in his end of season press conference that he wants to spend his first round pick on someone who is a constant contributor right away. Ingram’s role in year one (and maybe year two) would be to replace Raheem Brock on obvious passing downs and maybe kick inside occasionally (also in 3rd and long situations). You’re also banking on Clemons digressing in 2012, because if he records double-digit sacks again in 2012 I’m not sure you chase him out of town just because he’s turned 31. After all, Jared Allen is only a few months younger than Clemons.

I highlighted Courtney Upshaw yesterday as someone who could be a better fit given the circumstances. He has superb recognition skills, he’s a contributing force against the run and will be able to rush the passer in a lot of different packages. Drafting Upshaw would essentially push Seattle’s hybrid defense closer to the 3-4 on certain downs than the current 4-3. It’s still largely the same ideology with the same personnel on the field – but with Upshaw at WLB yet playing a lot of downs at the LOS across from Clemons. This would give the team a lot more balance in terms of a pass rush, while also improving the teams run defense. It’s not impossible for Ingram to play a similar role but Upshaw is vastly superior defending the run (perhaps the key identity for this defense), he’s harder to move, he has the ability to read and react with superb pursuit and he has greater experience on underneath coverage. Ingram is a better speed pass rusher, but I think the other qualities are strong enough to separate the two in terms of what the Seahawks are looking for with the #11 or #12 pick.

Ingram is a fun player to watch, but I also think he’s a little overrated. Below you’ll find a breakdown of the Nebraska tape (see video above) and he’s largely ineffective for most of the game. Upshaw is a master of leverage – he’ll get under the pad level and drive you backwards with a superb bull rush. He has violent hands and does a great job keeping lineman off his frame. Ingram might be a more athletic player in terms of foot speed and mobility, but he’s far too upright and when a tackle or interior lineman gets underneath his pad level, it’s over. Look how many times Nebraska’s #50 gets into his body and dominates Ingram. He had no answer against the left tackle – he couldn’t beat him on the edge for speed. If he engaged he couldn’t get off the block, he couldn’t bull rush the guy. You see in the video at the end of the game how he almost takes himself out of the play by standing off the tackle as if he’s saying, ‘I can’t beat you – I’m trying to work out why.’ South Carolina’s staff pretty much moved him permanently into the middle on a three man front because he had no success off the edge.

As an interior rusher he didn’t achieve a great deal more and couldn’t get away from the center/guard double teams – often being stoned at the LOS. You could argue he was a liability against the run overall. He had one productive play on a spin move and you have to give him credit for having mastered that one move. When I interviewed Hall of Famer Richard Dent last year I asked him what young defensive lineman should do when approaching the league. Dent believed young lineman should concentrate on having one move you can perfect, that you can keep going back to even on a rough day. Ingram has that in his locker.

He’s also a very busy, compact player who will get sacks at the next level. The thing is, I’m not convinced he’ll ever be more than a specialist rusher who ends up getting his production on third down. Let’s not forget – even as a fourth year junior that’s the role he had with the Gamecocks, before taking on more snaps as a fifth year senior. There’s some value to that, of course there is (see: Aldon Smith), but I’m looking at Green Bay who struggled on third downs most of the year and need a boost to compliment an elite roster. I’m looking at Baltimore who could add another piece to their elite defense. The Seahawks – as much as the defense has grown in the last 24 months – need more than a specialist. San Francisco spelled Aldon Smith because they already had guys like Justin Smith on the roster. Seattle needs a cornerstone – not a younger version of the 2010 Raheem Brock.

Onto the tape…

0:21 – Ineffective rush, too easily pushed over by the left tackle and Taylor Martinez has a clean pocket to throw a touchdown.

0:27 – Blocked out of the play by the right tackle. Doesn’t show enough drive to push the blocker backwards and once he’s allowed hands onto his frame, he can’t get free.

0:32 – Not sure what the plan was here, he shows inside but the tackle forces him to the outside. Again, once he’s allowed the tackle to get hands on his frame, he can’t disengage.

0:47 – Driven outside by the right tackle and as with 0:21, loses his footing.

0:54– Double teamed by the running back and full back as the tackle dips inside. Cornerback blitz isn’t picked up and leads to a sack, but Ingram is ineffective.

1:00 – Cannot disengage again, is too upright and doesn’t drive into the blocker. Dominated by the left tackle here.

1:08 – Three man front, Ingram is completely stoned by the guard and center working together. The rest of the defensive line and a blitzing linebacker get into the backfield, but Ingram struggles against the double team and remains at the LOS. To his credit, he sticks with the play and completes the tackle that stops the screen pass.

1:18 – Jarred at the LOS by the tight end who jabs at Ingram and then runs into space. It’s enough to take him out of the play. Ingram has to take advantage when lined up with a tight end.

2:10 – Again far too upright and allows the blocker to get into his pads and drive him out of this run play. The left tackle chirps away at the end of the play because so far, he has Ingram’s number. Playing at 6-2 and with a squat frame he has to do a better job with leverage.

2:30 – Superb pass protection again from the left tackle, dropping back and again getting hands on Ingram to basically finish the block. Perfect protection leads to a big pass completion from the quarterback.

2:46 – Does a better job against the tight end this time, dipping inside and then spinning out of the block to stop Martinez on the run option. Nice move.

3:01 – Again struggles playing inside against the guard and center. He doesn’t have enough power at the P.O.A. to drive through this situation and working against interior double teams he struggles badly. He’s the one defensive lineman stuck at the LOS while the others rush.

3:22 – Handled by the left tackle. Does a better job getting hands on the blocker and forcing him back a little, but he doesn’t beat the guy to press the quarterback.

3:30 – Kicks inside and is driven backwards by the interior lineman on this running play. Nebraska ran the ball right in his direction and he’s forced back several yards.

3:48– Left tackle seals the edge and this could’ve been kicked outside for a big gain. Ingram once again ineffective.

4:23 – Struggles badly – once again – when moved inside and defending the run. He cannot get away from interior double teams and it creates a huge hole for Martinez to run through the middle.

4:38 – Clear evidence that Ingram is struggling because he’s tentative to attack the left tackle here and basically takes himself out of the play. He’s over thinking the rush and trying to find out how he can beat the guy.

4:50 – The first evidence of an effective rush from a three-man front, where he uses his favorite spin move to get away from the left guard and force some pressure. Martinez sacks himself after the initial rush from Taylor, but Ingram was also closing in.

5:06 – Suddenly he’s on a role, abusing the center again from a three man front to record the sack. The interior lineman is outclassed here by Ingram and has no chance.

5:20 – Yet… when Nebraska go back to double teaming the interior, they take Ingram out of the play.

5:28 – Tries to rush the interior again but the spin move doesn’t work this time and he’s stopped at the line and jolted well out of the play.

Tape supplied to Seahawks Draft Blog by JMPasq


  1. Micah

    I think he needs to develop a swim move. I think he probably plays better coverage than Upshaw on passes.

    There is no doubt that Upshaw is a more complete DE, but just I can’t see him at LB. Upshaw tackles better, and is better on the run. I might play Upshaw instead of Red Bryant on a lot of downs. I certainly don’t think we should pay a ton for Red, as his lack of pass rush and edge speed is an issue. If I’m looking at the other side.

  2. Rob

    I think I mentioned this in the other Ingram piece, but I don’t think he’s shown any superiority in coverage. When he does drop it seems incidental, as if he’s decided to cover and isn’t under a strict play call. Upshaw does very little in coverage too, but he is given specific duties on underneath routes.

  3. williambryan

    I think it would be important to consider his performance against a different offense than Nebraskas. They are an option and screen heavy team which could make Ingrams responsibilities a lot different than what they usually are and what I suspect most NFL teams would ask of him. Mainly, rushing the QB at all costs. And I think that is exactly what the Seahawks want and need. I don’t doubt for a second that they wouldn’t trade Carpenter for Aldon Smith. Yeah he isn’t an every down guy but the downs he plays or important and he impacts them. Thats exactly what I think Ingram will do. I think he will make the plays when they count.

  4. Rob

    Hey williambryan,

    Although they run a lot of run-option, there’s still plenty of evidence of 1v1 matchups against a talented left tackle and he struggles. What’s more, he doesn’t excel against the TE and has problems getting off an interior double team. Really, those things transcend the offensive scheme.

    As for Smith/Carpenter… again, the Niners can accomodate Smith a lot more given the elite nature of some of there other lineman. Seattle – IMO – wouldn’t trade what they perceive to be a starting RT for a supplimentary rusher. I graded Aldon Smith a lot higher than Ingram for what it’s worth, and he didn’t have the kind of struggles we see here against Nebraska. But the Seahawks need more core pieces to their defense before they look at specialists. Pressure on first down is as much a problem for Seattle as it is on third down.

  5. Craig

    I completely agree with you in your praise of Upshaw’s potential in our defense than Ingram.
    Question Rob: What are your thoughts on Brandon Weeden? Along with Cousins, he’s been gaining a lot of steam recently. Would you be able to compare/contrast the two briefly? (Or, if you need an article topic, in depth?)

  6. Rob

    Hi Craig,

    I broke down Weeden’s game (I have a few concerns) in this article here:

  7. Jmpasq

    Ive never been a believer in Melvin Ingram. Yeah there is a few splash plays but outside of the 1 or 2 plays a game he makes a play there is nothing else. Pressure is just as important as getting sacks and Ingram just doesnt cause enough of it in my opion to warrant a high selection. For all this talk of him being this grat athlete its not in ways that translate to pass rushing in my opinion. The only time I think he looks good is lined up inside rushing the passer besides that he looks like a classic bust pick

  8. Craig

    Thanks a lot Rob!
    Was on vacation at the time so I was (understandably) not checking the site every day

  9. AlexHawk

    Thanks for all the work you put into the blog Rob I am an avid reader and being from the UK don’t really get the opportunity to watch any college football. Also thanks Jmpasq for all the footage and the cutting must take a while and is also appreciated. Good point on Ingram as well personally I feel that QB pressures is a statistic that seems to be underrated with Ingram he seems to get the sack or just be taken out of the play. I think he could develop over time but seems like more of a luxury pick than a player who can play all 3-downs.

  10. Rob

    It’s a good point, Alex – and John is right about Ingram. I have no doubt he’ll get his sacks, but the Seahawks need sustained pressure. They need someone on defense who can fit into what is (in all fairness) a bit of an unbalanced scheme in terms of the pass rush – while maintaining the key pieces already on the roster. I’m not convinced Ingram will create that sustained pressure.

  11. dave crockett

    For me, the comparison isn’t exactly Ingram vs. Upshaw. Upshaw is the better prospect. You’ve made that case well enough. The question is about how good of a prospect is Ingram, especially considering that Upshaw may go early (as you speculate).

    I just wonder if some of the weaknesses you fairly point out aren’t about polish and technique. I mean, Upshaw has benefited greatly from NFL caliber coaching. The Alabama defenders, at every level really, come out with a great deal of polish. Those guys not only know where to line up, they learn ALL the tricks of their respective trades. That’s why I completely buy your concerns about Dre Kirkpatrick. If he didn’t learn to cover playing for that staff, it’s probably because he can’t.

    By contrast, the Gamecocks have turned out some very good players in the secondary but not really in the front seven. This is despite both programs getting commits from some pretty good prep talent.

    That said, I kinda feel like with Ingram the MAJORITY of concerns are less about innate ability and more about the difference in coaching. Upshaw isn’t the most physically gifted LB to come out of Alabama, but I’ll be damned if doesn’t understand leverage like a mechanical engineer and hand play like a dirty old man.

    It’s pretty clear that Ingram doesn’t know how to do those things. He’s doing it off instincts and work ethic. He has a spin and a speed rush. That’s about it, and S. Carolina moves him around to find matchups to take advantage. He needs better technique clearly, but he’s got some talent as a rusher.

    Should Seattle move down a bit, do you think he’s worth a gamble?

  12. dave crockett

    Part II…

    I don’t have any particular love for Ingram, but I’m inclined to think that the difference between a guy who “gets sacks” and a guy who can create “sustained pressure” is probably player development.

    Right now, we don’t exactly have either. We’re not desperate, but that’s the point. We’re probably not looking for a defensive starter in the first round. Ingram seems like a guy who could develop, and that’s what this staff does. It develops.

  13. AussieSeahawks

    G’day Rob
    Been following your blog for years now and love the way you provide selections that are outside the box as well as the accepted “norm”. Thanks for the great site. Finally got up the nerve to make a comment. I’m tending to agree with your views on Ingram at this time but many other sites rate him a worthwhile risk. At this early stage I’m getting the feeling that if Upshaw, Coples and possibly Brockers are on the board at 11/12, we roll with one in that order. We hopefully look at Osweiler/Cousins in the 2nd and target a guy I like, Derek Wolfe in the 3rd.
    Firstly, your thoughts on this scenario and secondly, if the options at 11/12 are not there is there value at 11/12 for someone to look to trade up. For example is there enough quality OL talent for maybe the Lions, Bengals or another mid twenty team to want to make the move? We could then be looking at Still, Perry or Cox as a late first or target the QB as early 2nd may see a rush on the QB’s available. We then get an extra late round pick or 2 where Pete and Co do well.

  14. jim J

    Garh but I dislike these trade down comments. Why do you think whoever you want will be there later in the first round? We NEED a great pass rusher. Surely there will be someone in the 11/12 spot that we want. And chances are they won’t be there at 20. And why do you think anyone will trade up to 12 and give up there best 2nd round choice? Stop fooling around and pick somebody!

    Rob- I hope you do a writeup of Devon Still. Apologies if you already have.

  15. AussieSeahawks

    Just wanted to add, I’ve got the feeling we are in for an unprecedented number of 1st round trades this year with the new draft salary cap. Did you catch the Viking’s GM at the senior bowl training coverage where he said that they will get a quality player at the 3rd pick, “if we stay there”.

  16. Rob

    Dave – Excellent points on Ingram. I think you make a very valid point there on the coaching aspect, although I know very little about the quality of the South Carolina coaches personally. I still think we’re looking at a complimentary piece here and that bothers me in terms of a round one pick. I’m hoping – as I suppose we all are – that the Seahawks going forward are not going to be picking as high as #11 or #12. Should that be the case, this is an opportunity to take advantage and select a talent worthy of the pick who can fill a starting role immediately. I think we can replace Raheem Brock in R2-4 or in free agency, so that puts me off zoning in on Ingram who at this stage like you say – is a pass rusher with really a good spin move and above average speed.

    AussieSeahawks – G’day! Great to know we’ve reached Australia and please feel welcome to comment in the future! I hope you’ll spread the word to other Seahawks fans down under – I’m sure there are many! I tend to think your first scenario is very likely – going for a front seven pick in R1 and then looking at the quarterbacks in round two. I’m not sure about Coples who remains something of an enigma, but the other two guys have to be on Seattle’s radar. I think there’s a chance teams could move up – there’s always a player or two who falls on draft day and #11 or #12 is a good range to move up. In 2010 we saw a cluster of trades in that region, and Jacksonville moved from the mid-teens to #10 last year. So a move down the board is also very possible if the Seahawks think it’s the best move.

    Jim J – I haven’t done a write-up for Still yet, but I intend to in the next couple of weeks.

  17. Steve R

    Rob, great stuff. I am a constant reader.
    Ingram sounds like Brandon Graham from a couple years ago. Do you think thats comparable?

  18. Chris

    I think the big question on Ingram is whether or not he can play some LB. If not, there aren’t enough snaps on this team to make it a worthwhile pick as he’d be solely a pass rushing specialist. Upshaw clearly seems like he can play LB on early downs and then head to DE with some limited effectiveness on pass downs. Ingram’s upside and potential as a pass rusher just seems much higher to me. I have no clue if he can play LB though, and if he can’t do it at a decently high level, then Upshaw is a far more practical pick.

  19. Rob

    Steve R – I think they are pretty different overall, Graham was quick but was more of an undersized, orthodox rusher. Ingram appears to be a bit faster but less technical. Graham actually had a couple of move and much better overall technique and polish, but physically Ingram is superior. I think they could end up having similar careers though – and I’m always dubious of risers like this.

    Chris – Ingram will run a quicker 40 and he has a nice spin move, but I just think there’s so much more to Upshaw’s overall game. He’s not going to be quite as quick off the edge, but he doesn’t get dominated the way Ingram does in this tape. There are severe technical differences and Upshaw is several grades higher in terms of strength and hand use. I know not everyone agrees, but I truly think Upshaw is going to be an upper echelon pro. I cannot say the same about Ingram.

  20. Kip Earlywine

    I’m not a fan of Melvin Ingram. His athleticism is only special when taken in the context of his size/bulk- he’s not exactly Jason Pierre Paul. And yet he’s about as raw as JPP was in terms of pass rush techniques. He strikes me as a classic tweener, and every time I’ve watched him, I thought he looked better as a DT than a DE, which isn’t great news considering that he’s far too small to be an every down DT. He’s also too ineffective at DE to be a Justin Tuck type hybrid player. Forget coachable stuff- he just doesn’t have the explosiveness to even match Clemons as an edge rusher. Not even close.

  21. williambryan

    On Youtube there is tape of Ingram (SC) vs. Auburn. I wanted to compare that with the Upshaw vs. Auburn tape, kind of an apples to apples comparison (or as close as you can get). I think it would be great if you guys would do something similar since theses guys seem to garner a lot of interest. In my opinion, after comparing the tape, I would now be equally happy with either pick. They basically play a similar role in this game although there are a few snaps where Ingram drops into a zone and then a few where he lines up as a DT. It appears to me that Upshaw is only an DE or rush LB exclusively. I now understand your reasoning, Rob, as to your seaming preference for Upshaw at the 11/12 pick. Personally I still think it is closer to a toss up and, say both were available at the time of the hawks pick, it would just depend on what Carroll wants. A steady, but violent and relentless, every down player in Upshaw? Or a guy who specializes in big plays, but may just be a specialist and not an every down player? My feeling is that in this case the team would go with Upshaw, but I would still prefer Ingram myself.

  22. Rymong

    My take on Ingram is to look at him in the role he might play with the team. To me, he is not a Will and not a Leo. But, I think he can be a very effective -3 who spells Red at -5 on passing downs.

    Ingram is 10lbs under what John Randle played at as a penetrating DT. I think adding a little weight will not rob him of his burst. And at DT, his lack of height becomes a benefit (ask Red about how hard it is to play DT when you are tall). With Red at -5 and Mebane at -1, I think Ingram’s lack of bulk won’t be a big deal. He does not give up ground when playing inside, even when double teamed. He has demonstrated good swim and rip moves that will help from rushing the passer on early downs inside.

    At -5, on obvious passing downs, he can be an edge rusher on the opposite side of Clemons. Additionally, he has very good awareness in space and I think will excel at dropping into coverage on zone blitzes. He has the needed agility too, clearly in the tape above, he is tasked occasionally with covering the RB’s delayed routes out of the backfield and spying the Wildcat QB. There is also a highlight of him in one game tape where he picks off a pass during a fake punt some 30 yards down field.

    From what I saw from the TV coverage of the Senior Bowl practices, Ingram has better hands (in terms of punch and slap) than both Coples and Upshaw. To me, these two rely heavily on bull rushes that will be effectively neutralized by stronger NFL lineman. It won’t surprise me either, if Ingram has the most reps of the 3 in the bench press at the Combine. His arms were noticeably quite larger than Coples during their interview at the Senior Bowl practice.

    If Seattle takes him, here’s hoping he wears #93, to help with my argument.

  23. Jake

    We’ve disagreed on Ingram before, but it seems your view on this tape is slanted by your negative opinion on the guy. You pointed out that he was easily doubled out… only happened once in the tape above. Otherwise, he held his position (similar to what you’d hope for from a 3-tech DT getting doubled). On your analysis that Ingram had given up on pass rush, he is clearly spying the uber mobile Taylor Martinez and flat zones on RBs leaking out of the backfield. It’s actually a quite effective defensive scheme against Nebraska, as Burkhead out of the backfield and Martinez scrambling are their best offensive weapons. His unique abilities give a defense more options on how to play the opponent. I also don’t think #50 dominated him as much as you do, he even bull-rushed him right into his QB’s lap at 3:25. He did get stood up on a few plays one on one, but so did Julius Peppers against Okung… I mean you can’t win them all. I generally see a big time playmaker, who occasionally gets washed out of a play. But he’s instinctive and athletic, with in my opinion a significantly better pass rush arsenal than Upshaw (and I’m a Bama fan).

  24. Rob

    Jake – I don’t let negative opinions get in the way of tape assesment. I can’t afford to work like that, otherwise I’d be eliminating the possibility for improvement or that previous tape had been a ‘bad day at the office’. I watched that tape with an open mind, let me make that clear. He was consistently doubled by the guard and center and I noted it in the review with times associated with the clips. The #50 had his number in this game for me, it wasn’t an impressive display but for two splashes at the end of the game. And this is the issue for me – I want consistent pressure, not sporadic plays. I don’t doubt that Ingram is a better speed rusher, but give me Upshaw’s all-round skillset and quality every day of the week. But the point of this blog is to bring different opinions and views to the table – and I don’t expect everyone to agree with my assesment. But I think it’s important to make things clear – even the guys I’m really down on, I don’t go into tape review with pre-conceptions. I’m not a fan of Quinton Coples, but I’m just about to write up that he was immense in the Super Bowl. That’s the way it rolls here.

  25. Jake

    Rob – Thanks for the reply. I disagree with your assessment on Ingram, but LOVE that you put your assessments out there for us who can’t get enough Hawks. So thanks for your hard work and making this site a place where civilized disagrement is not only acceptable, but encouraged.

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