Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon Ducks

by Francis Duffy on March 27, 2006 @ 04:03:11 PDT

 


Dallas Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells is one of the biggest promoters for what is now called the "Planet Theory". What exactly does that mean? Well, the "Planet Theory" simply states that there are only so many big men on Earth who have great athleticism and that if any team has a chance at nabbing a player of that caliber, they should jump on it. This theory describes Oregon defensive tackle Haloti Ngata exactly to a tee. The California native declared he would forego his senior year with the Ducks to enter the 2006 NFL Draft earlier this winter, and is on his way to being a top-10 pick this April.

At Highland High School in Salt Lake City, Ngata was an absolute force, leading to him being named as the top defensive prospect in the entire country after he graduated. In his senior year alone, the 6-foot-4 behemoth racked up over 100 tackles along with 30 sacks! He was named Utah's "Gatorade Player of the Year" that season for his work on defense as well as being an all-state selection at offensive guard. What most people don't know about the Polynesian terror is that he is an avid rugby player as well, and was highly recruited by USA Men's Under-19 National team after leading his high school team to state championships. After being heavily scouted by the University of Nebraska as well as Brigham Young University to play football, Ngata instead chose to become an Oregon Duck.

His first year in Oregon was highly successful, as Ngata played in 12 games and earned a starting job in Week 5. He finished his freshman season with 3.5 sacks and three blocked kicks on his way to becoming a freshman All-American. After missing all of 2003 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Ngata returned in 2004 with a vengeance. Ngata led the team in tackles among linemen and started the final eight contests after fully recovering from his injury. This season, he was named a consensus All-American, as he was in on 61 tackles (nine of which were behind the line) and three sacks while raising his career block total to seven. Ngata is at the top of almost everyone's draft boards at defensive tackle and should definitely be one of the first defensive players taken in April.

Positives

At 6-foot-4, 338 pounds, Ngata has fantastic size and can easily hang with the big boys in the NFL. He is a fantastic athlete, especially considering he plays rugby, and is "unblockable" at times. Ngata can collapse the pocket as well as any other tackle and is a guy who always seems to be making a big play.

The mammoth of a man can bench press 485 pounds and can squat 585 pounds, so you know he has great strength as well. His versatility will also allow him to be drafted highly, as he has the ability to play nose tackle in a 3-4 defense or in a penetrating one-gap defense as well. He can stuff the run with the best of them and is regarded by Oregon coaches as one of the smartest players on the field.

Negatives

Physically, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Ngata. Most of the issues concerning him, however, are in his head. The "lazy" label has been placed on him by some scouts, and his consistency has also been brought into question.

It also took him a longer time than expect to recover from the ACL injury, so teams may wonder how that has affected his game. For the record, after his 2004 and 2005 seasons, it is hard to imagine it affected him in a negative fashion. While he has the ability and intelligence, his technique still needs some fine tuning.

Draft Placement

When taking everything into account, it is quite obvious that Ngata is a top-10 prospect. There is a slight possibility that he could be taken as high as No. 5 overall, where the Green Bay Packers are looking for a defensive player to dominate the offense. He could also end up in San Francisco to play nose tackle in their young 3-4 defense, while the Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills are teams that should definitely pounce on him with their top pick.

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About Francis Duffy

"Fran Duffy has been involved in sports since he was a child. A Philadelphia native, Fran is obviously a die-hard fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Flyers and Sixers. Fran is desperately waiting to see his first major championship from one of his hometown teams. He is a Broadcasting major at Temple University and has experience on the radio as well as in television production. Fran also currently works with Temple football's video-operation's team and is an avid fantasy sports player. Looking for more experience in writing, Fran joined KFFL in the spring of 2005."

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