A first-round draft pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 2006, Haloti Ngata quickly has become among the premier defensive linemen in the NFL.
Even though he left Oregon a year early to provide care for his ailing mother, Ngata didn’t take long to make an impact. In just his third NFL season, Ngata was a second-team All-Pro selection. He repeated the honor in 2009 and improved to a first-team pick this past season. The 6-foot-4, 350-pound Ngata also received Pro-Bowl honors the past two seasons.
Simply put, Ngata is a run-stuffer and space-eater for the Ravens, and opposing offensive linemen consistently rank him among the most physical defensive linemen in the NFL. But does all this praise make the 27-year-old the best at his position or at least in the conversation when that topic is discussed?
According to Greg Cosell from ESPN in an interview for BaltimoreRavens.com, Ngata most assuredly is that good. Cosell noted that Ngata’s power and athleticism are a rare combination in someone that large, but it allows the Ravens to benefit from his versatility.
Simply put, the Ravens use Ngata just about everywhere in their defense. As previously stated, his size makes him a perfect nose tackle, but Ngata also can rush the passer off the edge or drop into pass coverage. He led Ravens D-linemen with 65 tackles, a career-high 5.5 sacks and five pass breakups.
And since Ngata is entering just his sixth season, the Ravens are hopeful they can sign him to a multi-year contract soon. To guard against losing him in free agency, the Ravens also assigned the franchise tag to Ngata before the lockout began. If the Ravens can continue to keep Ngata in the fold for at least another 4-5 years, the matchup nightmare will continue for the Ravens defense in the AFC North.