Ingram moves close to his mentor

If an AFC West pass-rusher wins the NFL defensive rookie of the year for the 2012 season, San Diego Chargers fans may want to thank Von Miller.

Yes, the 2011 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

During the NFL combine in February, Melvin Ingram was asked who was mentoring him as he was planning to become a 3-4 linebacker in the NFL. The South Carolina product answered quickly: “Von Miller.”

A year after Denver took Miller with the No. 2 pick; Miller spent the early part of the offseason working with Ingram. The two share the same agent.

Thursday night, after he unexpectedly fell, the Chargers took Ingram with the No. 18 pick. He is considered one of the best picks of the first round because of his value and the need he fills in San Diego. Expect the Chargers to unleash Ingram and allow him to rush the passer.

At the combine, Ingram said Miller inspired him. Miller has 11.5 sacks as a rookie and he was a major reason why Denver’s defense improved in 2011.

“We just try to compete against each other every day,” Ingram said of Miller at the combine. “Obviously, he's the Defensive Rookie of the Year. So I just try to pattern myself after him because I feel like he's had a lot of success in the NFL.”

My impression from Ingram at the combine was that he was a confident, polite and good-natured player. Oh, and he’s scary athletic as he showed in college. He is a playmaker with great speed. How good of an athlete is Ingram? He was his high school team’s point guard at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds.