INDIANAPOLIS—South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram and Cincinnati’s Derek Wolfe are classic representatives of the defensive linemen in this year’s draft class that are attempting to attract teams that play a 3-4 defensive scheme. Ingram is an immensely talented athlete that believes he can be an impact pass rusher as an outside linebacker; Wolfe is a high-motor over-achiever that vows to be selfless.
“I feel like I can play any position on the football field. I feel real comfortable. It’s like second nature to me,” Ingram said when asked if he’s capable of playing outside linebacker in the NFL.
Ingram is one of the headliners on the defensive side of the ball at this year’s scouting combine. He came out of nowhere to become one of college football’s top players last season, Ingram’s only year as a starter. On Monday, he’ll participate in workouts that could do for him what the same drills did for Jason Pierre-Paul in 2010.
“I want everyone to be interested in me,” the engaging Ingram said.
If he runs a fast 40 on Monday, everyone will, very definitely, be interested in Ingram. The Packers, of course, are in need of another star pass rusher.
How fast does he expect to run on Monday?
“I don’t make predictions. We’ll see on Monday,” he said.
Interestingly, Ingram is projected to run a 4.8; that’s an estimated time and it just so happens that 4.8 is the line where the distinction between a hand-on-the-ground end and a linebacker is blurred. Suspense will build as Monday nears.
What the 3-4 teams know about Ingram is that he is clearly athletic enough to play outside linebacker. At 6-1, he’s a former point guard in basketball that can dunk and do back flips. He was on the good-hands onside team at South Carolina.
“I’m not one to brag about anything. We can always go outside and prove it,” Ingram said during a session with the media on Saturday that bordered on entertainment.
He claims to have received an expression of interest from every team in the league, and the team that eventually drafts Ingram is “going to get a hard worker, a passionate player who leads by example.”
If Ingram should turn a fast 40 time on Monday, he’ll likely distance himself from the Packers’ pick at No. 28. Pierre-Paul was a one-year starter that rode a fast 40 time and an eye-popping combine workout to become the 15th overall pick of the 2010 draft. Should Ingram run closer to 4.8, however, he would likely move closer to the Packers in the draft order. He promised on Saturday that he will run on Monday.
Wolfe possesses the attitude teams that play a 3-4 defense seek in their defensive linemen, who are asked to selflessly absorb the blocking so the linebackers can run free to the ball.
“I feel most comfortable as a three-technique (defensive tackle in a 4-3) and as a defensive end in a 3-4. I just try to be relentless,” Wolfe said.
He was a late addition to the Senior Bowl when Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still became a scratch. The little-known Wolfe then turned in an impressive performance, displaying a high motor and a willingness to be coached.
At 6-5, 286 pounds, Wolfe has the look of a player that will add bulk to his frame, once it’s determined in what scheme that frame will be playing. He’s already undergone a radical attitude adjustment.
“I honestly can’t watch it. It’s not me out there,” Wolfe said of tape from his junior year at Cincinnati.
He considered entering the NFL draft last year, but then made what he said was the best decision of his life, to stay in college and dedicate himself to being a better player.
“I just didn’t like the effort. There wasn’t enough effort. Once I started playing the game right, things started to come along,” Wolfe told reporters at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday. “I’m not a selfish player.”
He became passionate about the game, and he likens himself to Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt, a try-hard guy whose passion for the game made him a first-round pick of the Houston Texans last year.
“It means play every snap like it’s your last snap. You don’t give up on any play. If you want to be great, this is what you do,” said Wolfe, who credits the coaching staff at Cincinnati for helping him see the light.
Wolfe said he met with the Steelers on Friday night, which would seem to confirm that he’s a candidate to play in a 3-4 scheme, which has long been the Steelers’ trademark.
“The people that run a 3-4 keep asking me, can you do this on the outside, can you do this on the inside?” Wolfe said.
His 40 time is being estimated at 5.20, but Wolfe smiled at the mention of it. He claims to be much faster than people think he is.
“My athleticism is being challenged and I can’t wait to show people what I can do,” Wolfe said.
Teams that need help on defense, no doubt, can’t wait to see what both Wolfe and Ingram do on Monday.