Draft Analysis: Optimum Scouting Reports

It takes years to fully evaluate a draft class, but just one click to learn more than most fans will ever know. Optimum Scouting, a third-party scouting service that works with pro teams and agents, is allowing us to share its detailed scouting reports on five of the Chargers draft picks. Read on to see exactly what San Diego added via the NFL Draft.

Scouting reports written by Optimum Scouting. See more at optimumscouting.com.

OLB Melvin Ingram, South Carolina

As an athlete, a football player and a person, Melvin Ingram is an impressive individual and an intriguing NFL prospect. He possesses the raw physical skills to not only play several different positions at the next level, but also the capability to fit into a myriad of varying defensive schemes. As a defensive lineman, he's still inexperienced, having started only one game in that role prior to the 2011 season. As such, his play-recognition skills need to be refined, especially if he is asked to move to outside linebacker next season, where reading keys will be of greater importance. Once Ingram processes information, he reacts both aggressively and with great success, showcasing top-level quickness, change-of-direction skills, closing burst, effort and range. It is not an exaggeration to state that he is a threat to make a big play at any level of the defense, on any corner of the field, at any moment of the game.

It is also not uncommon to see Ingram rush the passer from several starting positions, including defensive end, defensive tackle, outside linebacker and as a stand-up rusher off the edge. In this area, he comes to work with a full bag of tricks, but as of yet, he's failed to master any of them. Without question, his greatest success comes inside, where he outmaneuvers less athletic offensive guards, and this role should translate immediately in the NFL, with Ingram having similar production. However, on the outside, he is too often neutralized by talented tackles and will need further development of his game here. He has the physical tools (speed, flexibility, agility, balance and burst) to be a first-rate pass rusher at the next level if he can put everything together and produce consistently. And, because he's only started for one season on the defensive line, has shown development over that time and obviously works hard at his game, as evidenced by the wide variety of rush moves that he tries to incorporate, there is a good chance that Ingram's best days as a pass rusher are still ahead of him.

Ultimately, Ingram is like an iceberg, with only a small portion showing and the great mass hidden below the water. What he has shown, so far, is only a fraction of his potential. Having been moved around in the defensive formations so much, he hasn't had the time to settle in and learn any one position in detail. With more experience and solid NFL coaching, that potential should turn into production. And his athletic ability, nose for the ball and knack for making the big play should allow him to be an immediate contributor, until that potential is fully realized.

SS Brandon Taylor, LSU

Part of the most dangerous secondary in recent college football memory, Brandon Taylor played in a variety of coverage alignments at the strong safety position. A fiercely competitive tackler and plus alley defender, Taylor explodes downhill for run fits and flashes impressive striking power. Trusts his eyes and instincts, reads and reacts quickly to run flow, and has solid closing burst to the ball carrier. Will get overly aggressive when chasing the zone stretch, resulting in missed tackles; generally goes low for open-field tackles but again, flashes hit and stick power. All in all, Taylor has natural explosiveness supporting the run and is a well-versed form tackler.

Converted from cornerback to strong safety in 2010, ultimately thriving with the position change. Quick footed and balanced covering the back half of the field, keeps a cushion between both vertical patterns, splitting the difference and reacting to the throw. Extremely physical in coverage, Taylor is violent and competitive at the point of the catch to separate the man from the ball; boxes out and high points surprisingly well for his size. Displays good tracking skills in deep coverage and has underrated hands. Likes to make himself known throughout the game by delivering big hits over the middle of the field and carries himself with a certain level of confidence. Worked mainly in zone as the free defender and was given room to read the quarterback and react to the throw.

In limited man coverage experience, Taylor had a difficult time sticking in the hip pocket of opposing wideouts and was unable to tone down his aggressive play style. Being an instinctive, aggressive and reliable tackler, Brandon Taylor needs to land in a system that gives over-the-top help with a plus range free safety. Possesses adequate height, a well-put-together and muscular frame, while having hip explosion and foot speed you look for in a strong safety.

TE Ladarius Green, Louisiana Lafayette

A fantastic athlete that fits right into the new value of tight ends in the NFL, Green has a chance to be a unique weapon for a creative, wide-open offense in the NFL. Closer to a big-bodied receiver than the general tight end stereotype, it wouldn't surprise me at all if Green was split out wide more than he plays in-line in his NFL career. He extends away from his body very well to grab the ball and has a long catch radius. He doesn't utilize his strength in traffic as well as I'd like, and could look to add more bulk to be a more physical presence in the seam. He does, however, possess excellent ball skill and concentration for a tight end and has adequate balance after the catch to make plays in space.

Much more comfortable and able to make plays from a non-3-point stance, he'll be used as a Joker tight end in the NFL, though he has flashed some blocking ability from the natural tight end position as well as in the slot. He doesn't always use good hand placement, but will stick his nose at and through a block at times, further increasing his value. His immediate impact for an NFL team could be as a red zone target and a seam stretcher for underneath routes from outside receivers, but his ceiling is very high and could continue the new wave of athlete first, blocking second type tight ends. He will need to develop better route definition in and out of the seam as well as a better feel for finding gaps in zones, but both of those issues can be improved, especially if he can develop further his strength to his frame.

C David Molk, Michigan

David Molk's quickness on the interior to his initial block and ability to be powerful inline and downfield make him an ideal fit for a zone blocking center. A three-year starter from the Big Ten, Molk possesses more than adequate football IQ and has been a leader on his offensive line since he became the starter. A successful award-winner off the field, it's Molk's combination of balance on the interior, short-area quickness for an interior lineman and natural strength in his upper half to win initial battles that impresses.

He gets off the snap quickly and with great hand placement. His natural upper-body strength gives him that initial victory at the line against quicker defensive tackles. His lack of great lower-body strength and not playing with a wide base initially gives him trouble with more talented nose tackles, as he struggles when it's power rush versus his quick power style. He can get downfield in the short area, but isn't great at finding and setting up blocks on linebackers as of now, and will need to improve his downfield balance and positioning, though he has the natural skill set to develop it. A good, not great athlete, Molk has adequate balance and flexibility in space, but can't be asked to make plays with lateral quickness. As a primarily pivot blocker, Molk could have a very successful interior line career as a high IQ, consistent center who can win battles against quicker DTs to start and, with improved lower body strength and staying wider initially, could eventually be able to better handle nose tackles on a more consistent basis.

RB Edwin Baker, Michigan State

Edwin Baker's future looked very bright as a contributing true freshman, followed by dominate numbers as a true sophomore in 2010. Baker would then watch his production drop off last season and he enters this draft as an early-entry. Baker is a compact runner that packs a punch in his style. Although slightly undersized for the position, Baker has good bulk and uses his strength well between the tackles. Baker perfers to keep his game inside, as his low-center of gravity and one-cut mentality make him a threat to find a hole in the second-level. Baker has deceitful speed, getting to top-end quickly and showing good explosiveness through gaps. Baker is best fit for a zone scheme, where he is given one chance to identify his hole and shoot. He demonstrates good patience at times, but he also has a tendency to wait too long for a gap to open and he's far from an improvisor. It's not that Baker doesn't survey the field well, but he appears to make up his mind prior to the snap.

He gets behind his pads through holes and makes for a difficult tackle in most cases. Baker lacks the versatility necessary to really show promise at the next level. Coaches will like Baker's work ethic and off-the-field persona, but it's only fair to be skeptical regarding his decision to enter the draft after one solid season followed by a substantial drop-off. Baker is not a three-down back prospect, as he is not a receiving threat and he's an ineffective pass-blocker at this stage in his career. If Baker had stuck around and produced another solid season like his sophomore year, perhaps we're talking about him in a different light. But with his statistical background, one-year wonder is a justifiable thought. Baker's best bet could be on special teams.

Scouting reports written by Optimum Scouting. See more at optimumscouting.com.

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