Last week, the Detroit Lions traded for defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who spent the first nine years of his career with the Baltimore Ravens. To get a better idea of what kind of player he is, I sent five questions to Jason Butt from Baltimore Beatdown, SB Nation's Ravens blog. You can check out his answers below.
1. My understanding is that the Ravens lined up Ngata from various spots on the defensive line over the years. Where do you think he was most effective?
Yes, he did line up at nose tackle, three-technique and five-technique at various points of his career. Early on, it didn't matter where he played, he was just that good. But in 2013, he had one of his poorer seasons as the Ravens moved him primarily to nose tackle. Part of the lack of success had to do with not getting much production around him. However, moving out to three-technique a year ago, Ngata had one of his most productive seasons in quite some time. That probably had a lot to do with second-year nose tackle Brandon Williams' emergence, which helped free Ngata up to be more disruptive. Ngata still has the tools to command a ton of attention. But he needs a solid supporting cast around him to truly be effective.
2. Is it safe to say that Ngata's best attribute is stopping the run?
While he's an underrated pass-rusher, it's tough for anyone to run inside on him. There's a reason he keeps making the USA Football/NFLPA All-Fundamentals Team. If he's there, he's not going to miss the tackle. He's also not going to get blown off the snap by offensive linemen. In six of his nine seasons, Ngata has recorded at least 51 tackles. When it gets cold and it gets harder to tackle, Ngata will be there and won't drop off one bit.
3. How would you evaluate him as a pass rusher?
Ngata's a beast against the run, but he's quite solid rushing the passer, even if his sack totals in the past two seasons don't indicate it. His presence inside can force quarterbacks into quicker throws than they'd like. And this past season, the attention he commanded helped free up guys like Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil on the outside. From 2010-2012, Ngata recorded at least five sacks per season, and that's as a 3-4 defensive tackle. He's no Ndamukong Suh, of course, but he'll be fine at this skill, especially because he reunites with Teryl Austin and knows what they're trying to run as a defense.
4. What was your reaction to Ngata's suspension last season, and do you think that is something the Lions should be concerned about going forward?
Shocked is the best way to put it. Ngata is a guy that never has had any kind of issues in this area. He was a model citizen off the field and a great teammate in the locker room. He let a lot of people down by being suspended for Adderall use. For the Lions, I think the only issues of concern would come from whether this is a one-time thing or if it's something that needs to be addressed. There's a debate as to whether athletes use Adderall for on-the-field purposes or to keep them going for everything else in their otherwise busy day-to-day lives. The Lions need to do their due diligence to make sure Ngata's Adderall use was a one-time thing and nothing more. If that's the case, everything will be fine.
5. Finally, what kind of player are the Lions getting off the field?
Ngata's a laid-back guy that likes to keep to himself for the most part. He's not going to go out and get in any kind of trouble. He's not going to say the wrong thing to the media. He's a family man first and foremost and has a big heart. He's going to be a great ambassador for the Detroit community, as he was beloved by everyone in Baltimore. His Haloti Ngata Family Foundation does a good job at raising money for those that need it. He's also not afraid to endorse local products, as he became the face of Royal Farms convenient stores and M&T Bank. He's a solid mix of fun-loving and reserved that Lions fans will enjoy rooting for on Sundays.