I was REALLY psyched to get a look at Haloti Ngata tonight during the Oregon-Oklahoma game and I just have to say, I'm very disappointed.
Ngata is big. Very big. Not fat, but big. We get that. Supposedly he runs fast in the 40 but trust me when I said he by no means looked like it.
Here are the main points I did not like.
1. He's got NO pass rush. None. Whatsoever. Nada. Zero. Can't penetrate. Larry Chester incarnate.
2. He ties up two blockers but those two blockers can handle him and redirect him. And, toward the second half, he was getting blocked well in SINGLE blocks by Chris Chester.
3. When he gets turned around, he GIVES UP. Just doesn't even continue the play. There's no fight in him whatsoever. He is a LAZY player. He never pushes his position or hustles toward the ball.
4. He was without a doubt the slowest defensive lineman off the ball on the Oregon Ducks defensive line. You could watch each snap and you'd see all three other linemen punch forward quicker than Ngata. THEY got pass rush. THEY penetrated the lanes in run blocking. Ngata only did so when single blocked, and usually ended up falling for a trap block of some sort.
5. At 6'5" he has trouble getting underneath the pads of the offensive linemen that are blocking him...from the nose position. He played pretty much the same position all night that he'd play in Miami's D, and let me tell you in comparing him with Keith Traylor, there's NO comparison. You would think Ngata could look even more dominant there since he's just going against college players where Traylor goes against pros. Not so. When he played traditional nose, straight over the Center's grill, he got handled for the most part. When he played off-nose, like he would in our D, he did ok at times, usually took up a double on run blocking. When he took the 2-tech though, is when he penetrated more against a single guard but was usually susceptible to traps and geting turned around. In other words, in the Pros I think I would project him as a 2-tech guy, not a fit for our defense. Maybe a fit for our OLD defense. At his height if he's going to play nose he'd have to be able to penetrate like Manny Wright can. He can't. And, you can't play 3-tech if you're a crappy pass rusher.
Overall I have to say I walked into this game thinking one thing, and walked out thinking a completely different thing. Ngata seemed lazy, wasn't around the ball, wasn't penetrating or disrupting the pass or the run...only times he made plays were when Peterson came right at him. When I heard about his athleticism I had in mind this Warren Sapp type guy who could penetrate the pocket but he can't do that. He's no Warren Sapp by a long shot.
The most messed up part? Adrian Peterson started getting back on track in the second half while Ngata was in right. The OL started beating down the DL and they scored two TDs. Then Ngata gets injured and sits out the rest of the game...and I swear to god, his replacement was more high-energy (like the rest of the Oregon DL) and they actually started getting a better charge against the run WITHOUT Ngata in the game. They stopped Peterson when they had to and got it to where they basically could have won the game had they not been fielding a Leaf at quarterback (raise your hand if you didn't see that last minute game-losing interception coming from a Leaf in San Diego...I mean, come on).
Overall I'm very down on Haloti after this game. It isn't just a bad game. He was giving up on plays. No hustle. Lazy. I never want to see that even if you're not feeling April Fresh today.
Am I saying he's no longer a first round pick? No. You have to keep in mind the freak factor. He's a freak by the numbers. A freak by the numbers who gets lazy can always end up having a coach rip the mickey out of him and stomp that laziness out of him through good old fashioned butt whupping and conditioning. Or, he can end up being the same player. You don't know. Shawne Merriman disappeared on film a lot too. But right now, I'm not sure I take Ngata with the 15th pick. I might try and concentrate on people that could help us in other positions...like Michael Huff, Laron Landry, Chad Greenway, Demeco Ryans, maybe one of the OTs, of course Jay Cutler (or even Vince Young)...and quite possibly Claude Wroten.