The Ingram family might want to consider delaying its NFL draft celebration one day.
Steve Ingram will be the guest of honor at a party in Fairmont Heights on Saturday, in anticipation that he will be taken in the first two rounds of the NFL draft. Ingram is one of the best offensive linemen to play at Maryland, but he knows that factors like a slow 40-yard -- time at the national scouting combine could cost him.
When Joel Buchsbaum ran a mock draft in the January edition of Pro Football Weekly, he had Ingram as the second-best guard prospect and going to the Miami Dolphins with the 25th pick in the first round.
Buchsbaum now rates Ingram seventh among guard prospects, and the 66th-best prospect in the draft. ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper predicts that Ingram will be selected in the third round.
Might Ingram have to wait until Sunday, when rounds 3-7 of the draft will be held, to discover where his professional future lies?
"I read the football magazines for enjoyment, but I don't pay any attention to those guys," Ingram said. "Mel Kiper's never played any football. He's not working in a general manager's office."
The GMs and personnel directors were in Indianapolis for the national combine in early February, when Ingram graded out as the sixth-best prospect at tackle, the position he played for Maryland. More encouraging were the grades he received from the BLESTO combine, which placed him fourth.
A time of 5.6 seconds in the 40 hurt Ingram at the national combine, but when 18 teams saw him work out at Byrd Stadium on March 28, he was timed in 5.3.
"The national combine didn't go as well as I expected," Ingram said. "They want to see you at your worst. The 5.6 in the 40 came on the third day. It came after two days, 18 hours a day, of psychological testing for every team. The weirdest feeling was stripping down to your underwear in front of 500 men, and every one of them talking into their tape recorders."
Ingram, 6 feet 4 and 310 pounds, has received positive marks for his mobility. There are questions about his athleticism in one of the best classes of offensive linemen ever, and concerns about how he'll do in an offense other than the run-and-shoot, which was Maryland's set the past three seasons.
Ingram appreciates the talent scouts doing their homework, because he's done his.
Granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA after a broken leg in the opener ended his 1991 season, Ingram considered leaving Maryland last year.
Instead he returned, was named first-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference, completed his degree in criminal justice and played in the Senior Bowl.
Ingram and his parents interviewed 50 agents before signing with Eugene Parker & Associates, the same firm that represents Deion Sanders and many other former Florida State players. A deal with a trading card company brought him $17,500, but he's still driving a pickup with 110,000 miles. His agent handles the payments to the Bethesda trainer Ingram works with.
"I work out 4 1/2 -5 hours every day," Ingram said. "That's my job."
The last time a Maryland player was selected in the first round was 1984, when defensive end Pete Koch was taken by the Cincinnati Bengals.
"That would be a great feeling," Ingram said. "It would show that the program was on the uprise amid these gambling allegations."
Since March 6, Maryland has been investigating gambling by some of its football players.
If Ingram isn't drafted Saturday in the first two rounds, he's determined to still enjoy the day.
"When my parents told me they wanted to have a party, I was skeptical," Ingram said. "It started out for 50 or 60 people, now I think 300 have been invited. Two weeks ago, I decided there's no need to be nervous. If it's nothing more than celebrating the first person from my family to get a college degree, that's enough."
The Terps' offense lost five other seniors, and three of them want to play professionally.
Allen Williams could be taken in Sunday's late rounds.
In his first season as a regular running back in college, Williams averaged 5.0 yards per carry, finishing with 649 yards, and turned 51 catches into 357 yards. Twenty-five NFL teams watched Williams work out last month, and they like his versatility.
Dave Hack is a long shot to be taken in the late rounds, and fellow offensive lineman Jamie Bragg will also explore his free-agent chances.