Vikings

Is Ed Ingram Turning A Corner?

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah hasn’t exactly received a gold star — just yet — for his inaugural 2022 NFL Draft class. Following two different decisions to trade down on Day 1 and Day 2 of the draft — and within the division, no less — Minnesota’s trade partners appear to be having the last laugh. Granted, Detroit Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams has yet to play a snap in the NFL. But all signs point to him making his debut soon, as he’s returned to the practice field after recovering from a torn ACL last January. And the Green Bay Packers sure look like they landed a long-term WR1 in Christian Watson. Over the past three games, the former North Dakota State Bison receiver has 268 scrimmage yards and six touchdowns.

  • Vikings first-round pick Lewis Cine suffered a serious leg injury in Week 4 against the New Orleans Saints and was lost for the year.
  • Second-round pick Andrew Booth Jr. was also lost for the year, as the former Clemson cornerback recently underwent knee surgery.
  • Fourth-round pick Akayleb Evans looked promising in his first career start against the Buffalo Bills in Week 10, but he is making his way back after suffering a concussion in that game.

And although he’s been a starter from the jump, rookie second-round pick Ed Ingram has been Minnesota’s weakest link on offense so far. The former National Champion LSU Tiger right guard has served as the poster boy for Adofo-Mensah’s underwhelming draft class to this point. Ingram is dead last among NFL offensive linemen — by a fairly substantial margin — in pressures allowed with 44. The next-closest linemen have 35 pressures allowed. For additional context, Minnesota’s starting offensive line has collectively allowed 126 pressures through Week 12 — and Ingram is responsible for 34.9% of those.

Ingram was a four-year starter at LSU and was named Second Team All-SEC last season. Making matters even more complicated, Ingram was suspended for the 2018 season in Baton Rouge after he was indicted on sexual assault charges. Ingram’s off-the-field behavior will assuredly follow him for the rest of his playing career. But today, we’re going to keep the focus on Ingram’s abilities as a football player.

After getting worked — most notably by future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt — in Week 8 by allowing a season-high seven pressures and two sacks on the day, Ingram struggled again in Week 10 against the Bills. He matched his season-high of seven pressures allowed and was responsible for yet another season-high with six hurries allowed.

Although the offensive line as a whole was embarrassed at home against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 11, Ingram only allowed three pressures (and a sack) on 37 pass-blocking opportunities. And against one of the best fronts in the NFL, he had his best day as a pro against the New England Patriots last week on Thanksgiving night. On 39 pass-blocking opportunities in Week 12, Ingram allowed a season-best one pressure and didn’t give up a sack. Granted, the NFL’s sack leader, Matt Judon, beat him badly when the versatile edge rusher moved inside to be isolated on the rookie, which required Ingram to be penalized for an obvious holding call.

Pro Football Focus awarded Ingram with his best pass-blocking grade of the year (72.8) last week. Don’t look now, but over the past two games, Ingram has allowed a respectable pressure rate of 5.3%. For context, he’s allowing a league-worst 9.0% pressure rate on the year.

Is the lightbulb finally coming on for Ingram as the Vikings embark on the home stretch with the calendar turning to December?

We’re about to find out on Sunday against the New York Jets. Although potential Pro Bowl defensive tackle Quinnen Williams spends a vast majority of his time this season going to work against left guards (good luck, Ezra Cleveland), Jets head coach and defensive whiz Robert Saleh doesn’t hesitate to move Williams around to create advantageous matchups for his defense. Of Williams’ 488 snaps this season, 73.6% have come against left guards. Will Ingram maintain his stellar play over the past two games and hold up against Williams on the roughly quarter of his snaps when he’s playing elsewhere than his usual defensive right tackle spot?

On the year, Williams has nine sacks (according to PFF), which is second-most among all NFL interior defensive linemen. He also ranks seventh throughout all interior defensive linemen with 38 pressures.

When Ingram isn’t matching up against Williams, he’ll be squaring off against Sheldon Rankins. He was cleared to play Friday morning after being sidelined since Week 9 with an elbow injury. According to PFF, Rankins has a 7.6% pressure rate and three sacks on the year. Rankins’ pressure rate is above the league average for interior defensive linemen, meaning that Ingram will undoubtedly have his hands full going against both of New York’s defensive tackles.

If we had to put a number on what a successful day against the Jets looks like for Ingram, it would be three or fewer pressures allowed and zero sacks. And it’s certainly reasonable to expect three or fewer pressures, as Ingram has recorded that in three out of his past four games. The progress Ingram has demonstrated in those four games is noteworthy because the Vikings have been forced to block some of the best fronts throughout the league in Washington, Buffalo, Dallas, and New England.

It hasn’t been pretty this year, but Ingram’s play of late has suggested that this weakness could soon turn into a strength for Minnesota’s offensive line.

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Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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