The New York Jets crowd chanted for Melvin Ingram at No. 16, but their cries went unanswered. Instead, the South Carolina defensive end fell two spots and was selected No. 18 overall by the San Diego Chargers.
Melvin Ingram, who was drafted No. 18 overall, will play an outside linebacker position in San Diego's 3-4 defensive system.
Ingram went from a mid-round projection after his junior year all the way to the first round this season, thanks in large part to a big senior year. He led the team with 10.0 sacks and five additional tackles for a loss. He scored three touchdowns - two of which returning fumbles and another on a fake punt.
“The fans are going to love this guy because of his physical nature, aggressiveness, his attitude toward the game and his abilities,” Chargers general manager A.J. Smith told the official website. “He’s a playmaker and he’s going to bring the heat, which is what we’re looking for. Pass rusher was something that was a top priority and we got that done.”
When Ingram stepped to the stage, he exchanged a couple of slaps of the hand with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell before a handshake and hug. Ingram showed his personality on stage, and now it’s time to show his skills on the field.
“When this defense has been at its best, we’ve had multiple players playing well at the outside linebacker position,” Chargers head coach Norv Turner said. “We’ve been able to roll them in there. Melvin can be an impact player. He doesn’t have to be on the field every down.”
Ingram, who is a tweeer-type player as a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme or an outside linebacker in a 3-4, will play with his hand off the ground for the Chargers. New defensive coordinator John Pagano will have the versatile Ingram as a key fixture in his defense.
“Coach (John) Pagano will use him all over the place,” Smith said. “He can play strong-side, weak-side, and inside in the nickel. He’s an exceptional player who can do many different things.”
Ingram finished his career with 23.5 sacks and 111 total tackles during his South Carolina career. He started every game his senior season while only starting two during his first three years.
During his career at South Carolina, Ingram spent his first year at middle linebacker but then moved to the defensive line after redshirting his second year on campus due to a foot injury. Ingram spent time at both end and tackle, but found a home his junior and senior year at the end of the line of scrimmage.
Ingram and cornerback Stephon Gilmore (No. 10 overall to Buffalo) were both selected in the first round of the NFL Draft giving the Gamecocks two first round picks for the second time in school history. Running back George Rogers (first overall to New Orleans) and tight end Willie Scott (No. 14 overall to Kansas City) were both first round selections in 1981.
The next player expected off the board is wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who fell out of the first round.
Rounds 2 and 3 will be Friday night while rounds 4 through 7 are on Saturday. The draft is being broadcast both on the NFL Network and ESPN. It is also being streamed online at NFL.com.