For most college down linemen asked to make the shift, it takes time for them to adjust to life standing up. But, in Ingram's case, he is not that many years removed from playing that position, both during his prep days and as a freshman at South Carolina, when he shared middle linebacker duties with Jasper Brinkley.
The Giants have utilized Jason Pierre-Paul in a variety of ways, even lining him up inside as a defensive tackle in various coverages. Ingram (6-foot-2, 276 pounds) has similar qualities, as he shifted from middle linebacker to defensive tackle as a sophomore for the Gamecocks. Teams wondering if Ingram can be an impact player as a rush end need only look at his high performance level playing there the last two seasons.
Further adding to his versatile resume, Ingram has stepped in as a kickoff returner, and even as a senior, he enjoyed playing on South Carolina's hands team on kickoffs. At 275-plus pounds, some kicker is sure to hesitate getting in the way of this Gamecock, if he sees Ingram running with a head of steam. As a senior, he even got to show off his running skills, picking up 87 yards on two carries that included a 68-yard touchdown vs. Georgia.
The South Carolina staff knew that no task was too daunting for this blue-chip athlete. A true playmaker, Ingram might have recorded just 109 tackles in 52 games during his college career, but he is a proven pass rusher, ranking fourth in school history with 21.5 sacks.
Teams wondering about his ability to stack and shed saw a lineman that recorded a total of 37 stops behind the line of scrimmage for the Gamecocks (25 solos, 12 assists), placing fifth in school annals. Scouts are also impressed with his quick reactionary skills and ability to close on the ball in a hurry.
The senior led the nation's down linemen in scoring during the 2011 schedule. Along with his 68-yard jaunt into the end zone as a ball carrier vs. Georgia, he scooped up a fumble in that game and returned it 5 yards for another score. In the Vanderbilt clash, he pounced on a fumble, recovering it in the end zone for a touchdown. Later in the season, he rumbled 19 yards to set up another scoring drive vs. The Citadel.
Simply put, Ingram is not only one of the most versatile linemen in this draft, but one of the most productive. What he provides a team that drafts him is a player that will take on any task asked from him, but provide a defensive coordinator a player that is like a heat-seeking missile when he comes to attacking the backfield and applying pocket pressure.
Most youngsters like to hone their skills at one position – not Ingram. He has the burst to impact the pocket taking on offensive tackles coming off the edge. On third-down plays, he has the leg drive and hand punch to bull rush inside or prevent the lead blocker from widening the rush lane. If needed to cover tight ends and backs underneath, he has the pitter-patter footwork and lateral range to mirror, along with the hand usage to reroute or jam.
Ingram might lack the great height some teams look for in a down lineman, but he shows good upper-body thickness, wide hips, good bubble, muscular arms and very good straight-line speed. Used on the corner, you can see he is an aggressive and physical edge rusher who plays with a high motor and a competitive nature. In the last two seasons, he has developed into an excellent edge rusher who constantly beats the blocker with his initial quickness, leading the team as a junior (nine) and senior (10) in sacks.
Shifting inside, he demonstrates the upper body power to stack, shed and press off coverage. He does a good job of making adjustments on the move and has the lateral range to get to the perimeter and force the outside running game back inside. When he stays low in his pads, he is capable of driving through blocks and also demonstrates functional ability to anchor at the point of attack. He pursues the play with vigor and has fluid lateral agility in pursuit, showing good urgency throughout the chase, resulting in the Gamecock recording 26 tackles behind the line of scrimmage during his last 27 games.
For a potential move to linebacker in a 3-4 defense, Ingram is explosive closing on the ball in the short area and has the valid foot speed to make plays outside the box. He hits, wraps and drives through the ball carrier with good technique, doing a good job of adjusting in space. He shows the leg drive to change direction in an instant. He also displays impressive hip snap turning and takes good angles while keeping his hands active to defeat the block.
Ingram was a hard-hitting linebacker at Richmond County High School, where he also lined up with the receiving unit. He was rated the 21st-best outside linebacker in the nation and the tenth-best overall prospect in the state of North Carolina while earning four-star prospect status from Rivals.com. Scout.com regarded him as the 20th-best middle linebacker in the country, placing a three-star rating on the Raiders performer.
Ingram signed his national letter-of-intent to attend South Carolina on Dec. 1, 2006. He reported to 2007 fall camp at 255 pounds, competing with the kickoff team, in addition to seeing some action at middle linebacker. He gained 90 yards on five short kickoffs and on defense he recorded 15 tackles and posted his first career sack vs. Vanderbilt.
During 2008 spring drills, Ingram broke a bone in his foot in an off-field incident and underwent surgery. When the injury had not healed by fall camp, the coaches opted to grant him a medical red-shirt. The year's layoff saw Ingram gain a considerable amount of bulk. He reported to 2009 fall camp at 297 pounds, dictating a move out of the linebacker unit and to the front wall. He backed up Ladi Ajiboye at right defensive tackle, finishing his redshirt sophomore year with 18 tackles that included 3.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Told by the staff that he needed to get in better condition, Ingram came back in 2010 and tipped the scales at 264 pounds. With the 30-plus-pound weight loss, he improved his stamina and quickness. Even though he started just one game, the junior shared right defensive end duties with Cliff Matthews, as he recorded 28 tackles. Nine of those stops resulted in sacks, the second-highest season total by a Gamecock in school history. He recorded 11 tackles for losses of 69 yards.
Ingram wanted to be a more forceful tackler as a senior, as he was not pleased with his 2010 total. He put back 10 pounds of muscle to his frame and took over right defensive tackle duties, marking the first season he was a full-time starter for South Carolina. Undersized for the position, Ingram's quickness and good pad level made him a tough assignment for the bigger, slower offensive linemen. He went on to earn All-American and All-Southeastern Conference honors, as he set the school annual record with 10 sacks, the third-best total in the league during the 2011 schedule.
Ingram also produced a career-high 48 tackles (31 solos). His 15 stops behind the line of scrimmage ranked fifth in the conference and tied for third on the school season-record list. He saw brief action on offense, with 87 yards and a score on two carries, returned two fumble recoveries for scores and also intercepted a pair of passes.
Ingram appeared in 52 games at South Carolina, starting 15 contests – one at right defensive end and 14 at right defensive tackle…Recorded 109 tackles (70 solos) that included 21.5 sacks for minus-161 yards, 30.5 stops for losses totaling 193 yards and eight quarterback pressures…Caused one fumble and returned both of his fumble recoveries for touchdowns…Deflected four passes and gained 8 yards on two interceptions…Had a pair of rushing attempts for 87 yards (43.5 ypc) and one touchdown…Added 90 yards on five kickoff returns (18.0 avg)…Among active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision performers, he ranks tied for 21st in quarterback sacks, tied for 15th in sack/lost yardage and eighth in tackle-for-loss yardage…His 21.5 sacks rank fourth in school history behind Eric Norwood (29.0: 2006-09), Andrew Provence (26.0; 1980-82) and John Abraham (23.5; 1996-99)…His 10 sacks in 2011 tied the school season-record that was first set by Provence in 1982…His nine sacks in 2010 tied Bill Janus (1978), Karey Johnson (1981), Provence (1981) and Eric Norwood (2008) for third on the Gamecock annual record chart…His 30.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage is the fifth-best career total in South Carolina annals, ranking behind Eric Norwood (54.5), Andrew Provence (35.0), Frank Wright (32.0; 1981-84) and Cecil Caldwell (31.0; 1997-2000)…Ingram's 2011 total of fifteen tackles behind the line of scrimmage tied Provence (1982) for third on the school season-record list, surpassed by only Eric Norwood (19.5; 2007) and Rickey Hagood (16.0; 1983)…Is one of only eight players in school history to lead the team in sacks more than once in a career.
Ingram was named All-American first-team by The NFL Draft Report, American Football Coaches Association, Walter Camp, Sporting News, Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Rivals.com and Pro Football Weekly, becoming just the third consensus All-American in South Carolina history and the first since 1984…Added All-Southeastern Conference first-team accolades from the Associated Press and the league's coaches… Was a semifinalist for the Bednarik and Lombardi awards and was selected SEC Player of the Week for his performances vs. Georgia, Vanderbilt and Auburn…Started all thirteen games at right defensive end, marking the first time during his career that the 276-pounder was a full-time starter…Responded with 48 tackles (31 solos), as he tied the school season-record with ten sacks for minus 80 yards, ranking third in the SEC and tied for 13th in the nation with an average of 0.77 sacks per game…Led the team and tied for third on the annual record chart with fifteen stops for losses totaling 100 yards, as his average of 1.15 tackles-for-loss per game placed fifth in the conference…Also registered six quarter-back sacks…Recovered two fumbles, returning both for touchdowns…Carried twice on fake punts, gaining 87 yards with a 68-yard score…Had a pair of interceptions for eight yards in returns and deflected two tosses…Helped the Gamecocks rank third in the nation in total defense (267.69 ypg) and 11th in scoring defense (18.38 ppg) while serving as team captain.
2011 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
The defensive end opened the season with four tackles, assisting on a pair of stops behind the line of scrimmage vs. East Carolina…Ingram only registered a single assisted tackle vs. Georgia, but provided big plays in every other conceivable way in a thrilling SEC East showdown that gave the Gamecocks a stunning 45-42 win. The senior recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown, and took a direct snap (off a fake punt) and ran 68 yards for a score. He then recovered the Bulldogs' last-ditch onside kick attempt to seal the victory. Ingram's superhuman effort was as surprising as it was impactful. In addition to being named SEC Player of the Week, the senior also garnered Walter Camp National Player of the Week honors…The next week, Ingram posted eight tackles vs. Navy before earning back-to-back SEC honors…In South Carolina's 16-13 loss to Auburn, Ingram recorded eleven total tackles, including eight solo stops. He also had 4.5 tackles for loss (minus-21 yards), including a career-best three sacks (minus-20 yards), as he also recorded an interception and two quarterback hurries vs. the Tigers. The Gamecock defense limited Auburn to just 3.9 yards per play in the contest and 18 points below their season's scoring average…Ingram scored his third touchdown of the season, this time falling on a fumble in the end zone in the second quarter for the Gamecocks' first points in a 21-3 win over Vanderbilt, as he was also credited with four tackles on the night, including three tackles for loss that accounted for 24 yards, and a pair of sacks, in addition to breaking up one pass. The Gamecock defense limited Vanderbilt to just five first downs and 77 total yards on 48 plays, an average of 1.6 yards per play. Only two of Vanderbilt's 14 drives lasted longer than four plays and only one gained more than 10 yards...Credited with a 12-yard sack, 2.5 stops for loss and four tackles vs. Florida…In The Citadel clash, he raced 19 yards with a fake punt to set up a scoring drive…Posted five solo tackles, including a pair of sacks (-19 yards) and a QB pressure vs. Clemson...Closed out his career with 1.5 sacks for minus 13 yards and four tackles in a 31-13 defeat of Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl.
Ingram played in all 14 games, starting vs. Southern Mississippi while sharing right defensive end duties with Cliff Matthews…Recorded 28 tackles (17 solos) as he led the team with nine sacks (tied for third on the school season-record list) for minus 65 yards, ranking third in the SEC with an average of 0.64 sacks per game…Second on the squad with eleven stops for losses of 69 yards…Added a quarterback pressure, a pass break-up and a forced fumble…Credited with half a sack on Georgia's final possession of the game...Had two tackles, including a sack, in win over Furman...Posted four tackles, a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss vs. Kentucky...Added two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss among four total stops vs. Alabama...Suffered a broken hand early in the game at Vanderbilt but returned to the contest...Made 1.5 sacks vs. Tennessee and posted two tackles vs. Florida, including the team's 33rd sack of the season which set a school record...Registered the team's only sack vs. Troy, forcing a fumble that led to a Gamecock touchdown...Also had a sack in the Chick-fil-A Bowl vs. Florida State.
Ingram returned to active duty after sitting out the 2008 season while recovering from foot surgery...Played in all thirteen contests at 297 pounds, starting vs. Florida at right defensive tackle…Credited with eighteen tackles (9 solos) including 3.5 for losses of 23 yards, 1.5 sacks for minus 15 yards, one quarterback pressure and a pass deflection.
Missed the entire season after breaking his foot off the field in the spring, spending the schedule recovering from surgery.
Played in all twelve games as a middle linebacker, logging fifteen tackles, including 13 solo stops...Credited with a 1-yard sack vs. Vanderbilt...Gained 90 yards on his five kick returns (18.0 avg), as he had three kick returns vs. Kentucky for 59 yards, adding five tackles in that contest.
2008 Season…Ingram sat out the season after he broke a bone in his foot during an off-field accident prior to the spring game and underwent surgery.
2010 Season…Suffered a broken bone in his hand in the first half vs. Vanderbilt, but after having his hand checked and taped, he returned to action in the second half.
AGILITY TESTS v 4.69 in the 40-yard dash…1.62 10-yard dash…2.63 20-yard dash…4.18 20-yard shuttle…6.83 three-cone drill…34 ½-inch vertical jump…9'1" broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 28 times…31 ½-inch arm length…9 5/8-inch hands…77 ½-inch wingspan.
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Dave-Te Thomas has more than 40 years of experience scouting for the NFL. At NFL Scouting, Thomas handles a staff that evaluates and tests college players before the draft and prepares the NFL's official Draft Packet, which is distributed to all 32 teams prior to the draft.
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.