Melvin Ingram Could Land In Top 10

Violent hands.

That’s the wording used by ESPN NFL Draft guru Todd McShay in describing Melvin Ingram’s giant quarterback-clingy paws. South Carolina’s departing sack artist and projected highest draft pick used his opportunity at the combine in Indianapolis to showcase his skills alongside other highly-rated defensive lineman.

Referred to as MI6 by Gamecock fans, Ingram finished with the second-best time in the three-cone drill (6.83) and third-best in the short shuttle (4.18). Ingram’s 40-yard dash of 4.79 puts him in the Top 10 among others at his position. The Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills each hold lottery picks and need a fierce interior lineman.

Why not Ingram?

The franchise that takes a chance on the 6-foot-2, 275-pound tank in the first round is getting an expert pass-rusher that will provide instant impact. They’ll see a return on their investment sooner rather than later even if a team chooses to move Ingram to linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

Ingram spent five years in the Southeastern Conference — more than most collegiate top picks — after starring at Richmond Senior High School in Rockingham, N.C. In high school, Ingram showed his versatility as an option quarterback, running back and linebacker before signing with South Carolina as a three-star prospect in 2007.

He played in all 12 games as a freshman before his career took a turn due to injury. Ingram missed the 2008 season with a broken foot before returning to the field — in an extended role along the defensive line — in 2010. He was still a linebacker as a sophomore in 2009 before coaches moved him closer to the line of scrimmage. Ingram led the Gamecocks with nine sacks as junior despite being a second-teamer.

He used that campaign as a launching pad to his final year of eligibility in Columbia.

Last season, Ingram finished with 10 sacks, 15 tackles-for-losses, two interceptions and a fumble recovery, going from unknown talent to a name on every team’s draft board. He headlined one of college football’s top-rated defenses and led South Carolina to a school-record 11 wins.

Not bad for a guy who was the fourth or fifth name mentioned on the Gamecocks’ defense coming into the 2011 season. The soft-spoken All-American will have All-Pro caliber numbers within three years at the next level, but it remains to be seen who will take a chance on a player that made just 14 starts during his collegiate career.

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