2012 NFL Draft: Is Melvin Ingram a Good Fit for Dallas Cowboys?

Tom FirmeAnalyst IIApril 18, 2012

TUSCALOOSA - OCTOBER 17:  Defensive end Clifton Geathers #96 of the South Carolina Gamecocks recovers a fumble by quarterback Greg McElroy #12 of the Alabama Crimson Tide while Geathers' teammate Melvin Ingram #6 looks on during the game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 17, 2009 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  The Crimson Tide beat the Gamecocks 20-6.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Melvin Ingram is a promising pass-rushing prospect coming out of South Carolina. He came on strong in the last two years, becoming a first-team All-American in 2011.

According to CBSSports.com, scouts for teams with 3-4 defenses are studying Ingram. Some may wonder if the Dallas Cowboys, which run the 3-4 defense, should consider Ingram.

Ingram has some traits that may attract attention from both 4-3 and 3-4 teams. He has tremendous strength and versatility and he possesses good hands. He played linebacker in high school, started out as a defensive end at South Carolina and played a mixture of linebacker and defensive end thereafter depending on certain formations.

Even though Ingram showed ability in college to play both outside linebacker and defensive end, the Cowboys would have to think hard about whether he could be an effective 3-4 outside linebacker.

What position best suits Ingram?

Ingram seems to be better suited to be a 4-3 defensive end than a 3-4 outside linebacker or 3-4 rushing defensive end. He gets past blockers by using hand strength or spin moves. Often, he’ll spin around a tackle and turn on a burst of speed to get to the quarterback for a sack. Sometimes, Ingram needs a second effort to get past the blocker.

Having to use a second effort to get past blockers isn’t something 3-4 defenses like that of the Cowboys want from a pass rusher. Rob Ryan would want to see a pass rusher get to the backfield on the first try.

Also, Ingram doesn’t have great explosion off the snap. At times, he can be late. That’s even more discouraging, since a pass rusher needs to be explosive to get past blockers who have reasonable awareness.

He can get swallowed up by some of the better offensive linemen and blocking tight ends, partly due to his lack of explosion and partly due to his subpar ability to shed blockers.

For Ingram, it’d be better to try to beat blockers from the defensive end position than outside linebacker, especially that of the 3-4 variety. Thus, the Cowboys shouldn’t try too hard to draft him and fit him in their pass-rushing schemes.

Could he pan out as a 3-4 outside linebacker if selected by the Cowboys?

One could by some stretch say that Ingram could work out as a 3-4 outside linebacker. His versatility to line up at different positions in different formations is one indicator.

Also, his length adds to his potential as a 3-4 outside linebacker. His arms are 31.5 inches long. Ingram could fly in and push blockers off with his long arms and quick hands to get by.

Since it may not be his move of choice, Ingram may need to be taught how to use it to do it effectively in the NFL.

Another option the Cowboys could exercise if they were to draft Ingram would be to employ the delay blitz with him to minimize the weakness with his explosion. He could wait to rush, adding the coverage option. After a few seconds, he could run in on the blitz.

This might not work since teams could dissuade him from rushing by passing quickly or dumping it in the flat.

The options for Ingram as an 3-4 outside linebacker are fairly limited, and they’d require some creativity. With that, one wouldn’t try too hard to make him work in that capacity.

Conclusion: Better Options for Cowboys at No. 14

Ingram is currently projected by CBSSports.com to be drafted before the Cowboys are on the clock. If he were to drop to the middle of the first round, he wouldn’t be worth the pick for the Cowboys. He doesn’t seem to fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker. His explosion isn’t good enough for the position. Also, his skill set doesn’t tend towards that position.

The Cowboys would be better off going for someone else if Ingram were available. David DeCastro would be a great addition to the offensive line. Dre Kirkpatrick would help boost the cornerback group. If the Cowboys want another pass rusher, they could get Quinton Coples.

Jerry Jones has plenty of players to look at, and Ingram shouldn’t be one of them.