DE Melvin Ingram (Al Bello/Getty)
The Seahawks and Jets gambled in their pursuit of pass rushers, freeing the Chargers to make one of the safest picks in the draft: Melvin Ingram. The pass rusher from South Carolina addresses San Diego's most glaring need and gives John Pagano a versatile weapon to unleash on opposing quarterbacks.
Melvin Ingram has spent the last two years making his living in opposing backfields. During that time he racked up 19 sacks and 26 tackles for loss, wreaking havoc from multiple positions. At 6-foot-1 and 264 lbs., he is a natural defensive end. But he also found much success playing inside, using his active hands and fast get-off to school opposing guards.
Ingram, who was recruited to South Carolina as a linebacker, will play outside linebacker in San Diego. But his ability to slide down and serve as a pass rusher on the defensive line is a huge asset, allowing him to be on the field at the same time as Shaun Phillips (an average of nine sacks from 2006-2010) and Antwan Barnes (a team-best 11 sacks in 2011).
Ingram's versatility goes beyond defense. He can serve on the punt team, where he once famously took a direct snap on a fake punt and ran it 68 yards for a touchdown. He can also work on the return teams, including the hands team.
While the peripheral benefits are nice, the reason the Chargers made Ingram the No. 18 overall pick is his ability to take down QBs. He has a full repitoir of pass-rush moves, including strong rip and spin moves. He also has the power and low pad level to bull rush.
Ingram is a playmaker, which is something the defense has been missing since Shawne Merriman and Antonio Cromartie left town.
The Chargers were legitimately surprised Ingram was available. It was a stroke of luck only made possible when the Seattle Seahawks (Bruce Irvin) and New York Jets (Quinton Coples) opted for pass rushers with more question marks and less consistency.
San Diego landed Ingram in the midst of a run on pass rushers. Four more defensive ends came off the board in the 10 picks that followed: Shea McClellin (Chicago Bears), Chandler Jones (New England Patriots), Whitney Mercilus (Houston Texans) and Nick Perry (Green Bay Packers).
A.J. Smith is confident his chosen pass rusher is the gem of this class. Of course, he felt the same way in 2009 when he picked Larry English ahead of Clay Matthews.
If Ingram makes the impact the Chargers expect, fans will finally forgive the English pick. And if English finds a way to finally fulfill his potential, as well, Peyton Manning will rue the day he opted to join the AFC West.
What do Chargers fans think of the Ingram pick? Find out in the message boards.
Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.