The Pittsburgh Steelers have a history of signing players they like during the annual pre-draft process as free agents several years after they were selected by other teams. The history of that is easy to track by past pre-draft visitor lists acquired over the years.
New outside linebacker Melvin Ingram, however, is a recent example of a player the Steelers liked ahead of a draft that they didn’t bring to Pittsburgh for a visit ahead of the annual selection process. At least as far as we know.
On Thursday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told the media after training camp practice had ended that he’s been fond of Ingram going all the way back to when he entered the NFL in 2012 as a first-round draft pick out of South Carolina.
“Usually those are the guys we end up doubling back to, “Tomlin said of the recent signing of Ingram after the team’s Thursday training camp practice today at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
While Ingram was not apparently brought in for a pre-draft visit in 2012, that’s likely because the team knew that they had no real shot at selecting that year. Ingram was selected 18th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers and the Steelers picked 24th overall that year. That selection by the Steelers was guard David DeCastro, and that pick turned out well.
‘We’ve seen him a lot over the years,” Tomlin said of Ingram, per Teresa Varley on Twitter. “Respectful of his body of work. We were familiar with him in the draft. He’s one of those guys that fit the profile. Felt really comfortable that he’s gonna be an easy fit as a man and as a player.”
Ingram, as you would probably imagine, has a lot of respect for Tomlin and he said as much right after he signed with the Steelers a few days ago. Ingram told Josina Anderson that Tomlin being Pittsburgh’s head coach played a big part in his decision to sign with the Steelers.
“I just did the deal not too long ago and just got to the airport. It’s definitely a dope organization and environment; so, I definitely feel like it’s the place for me,” Ingram reportedly told Anderson a few days ago. “I met with coach (Mike) Tomlin. You can tell he’s very involved and a players’ coach. That’s what stood out to me. He wants to win and that is what I am on. My role is my role. He just told me to come in and be me. Everyone knows how I play.”