Posted in Lombardi's Way
Print this article

The Ravens report to camp in just 6 days and there’s not even a hint that first round pick Haloti Ngata will be in Westminster on time.  The Sun’s Jamison Hensley pointed out earlier this week that Ngata as the No. 12 pick in the 2006 NFL Draft was selected after quarterbacks Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler at Nos. 10 and 11 respectively.  Quarterbacks typically make a bit more than other position players regardless of slotting to some extent, and Hensley wonders aloud if that might influence Ngata’s No. 12 position in the NFL’s unofficial slotting system for draft picks.

Here’s a look at the No. 12 pick over the past three seasons:






Shawne Merriman, LB

Jonathan Vilma, LB

Jimmy Kennedy, DT

Contract Terms (increase over prior year)

5 years, $11.33 million (10%)

5 years, $10.3 million (14%)

5 years, $9 million (21%)

Bonus (increase over prior year)

$9 million (24%)

$7.25 million (31.8%)

$5.5 million (0%)

Date Signed

August 1

July 28

July 28

While Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens don’t seem to have great concerns at this point, it is possible that Ngata’s terms could be inflated by the quarterbacks if Leinart and Cutler sign before Ngata.  As Hensley correctly points out, a better gauge for the parameters of a Ngata signing would be the defensive linemen taken after him – Kamerion Wimbley (13) and Brodrick Bunkley (14).

But Ngata’s agent will almost certainly want to see what Cutler signs for and waiting should help Ngata, at least financially.  The Ravens for a change might want to be a bit aggressive with this signing and offer a fair upgrade over the financial terms agreed to by last year’s No. 12 pick Shawn Merriman.

In 2004, Jonathan Vilma was taken by the Jets with the 12th selection in the draft.  The player chosen just before Vilma was Ben Roethlisberger and the player taken after Vilma was Lee Evans by the Bills.  The Jets signed Vilma on July 28 of that year.  Beating both the Bills and the Steelers to the punch saved the Jets money.  Vilma received bonuses totaling $7.25 million.  Evans signed on July 31 and received $7.47 million in bonuses while Roethlisberger received $9 million when he signed on August 3.

Waiting could be costly in more ways than one should Cutler and/or Leinart sign before Ngata.

The safety position opposite Ed Reed is one the Ravens will monitor closely in Training Camp.  When I asked Ravens Director of College Scouting Eric DeCosta if he had any concerns about the position, he had this to say:

“Whatever we do at safety, I know that Rex Ryan will have a lot of different options.  That is a position that we want to address.  We tried to address it in the draft this year and we had some guys that we had targeted earlier in the draft but it fell through for us and we weren’t able to get a safety.  I feel good about the position.  We’re aware of it.  I think we have enough veterans in the secondary to compensate to a degree for the lack of a real stud safety.”

Now that the Saints have released S Dwight Smith, some around these parts are wondering if the former world champion is a viable option.  Here’s the skinny on Smith from Scouts, Inc.:

Has impressive strength and has the ability to push receivers around and take them out of their routes. He’s aggressive, physical and confident. Has shown the ability to make plays from sideline-to-sideline and generally gets a good read on the ball. Has just adequate range but is generally in position to make the play due to excellent read-and-react skills. However, Smith has had some trouble in space at times. He needs to work on his technique particularly when defending the deep half. Will take some false steps and has a tendency to cross his feet over. Will be overaggressive at times, which often prohibits him from adjusting to the ball. 

Keep in mind the Ozzie mantra, “Right player, right price.”  Smith signed a deal with the Saints in 2005 that equated to a five year, $15 million contract that included a $3.5 million signing bonus.  For a 27 year old safety, those aren’t unreasonable terms particularly when you consider that a seven year vet minimum is $710,000.  So the price could be right.  But then again, Smith’s agent is Drew “Next Question” Rosenhaus. 

In a recent interview with Press Box founder Stan “The Fan” Charles, Brian Billick had this to say when asked if he felt more pressure heading into 2006 than at any other point in time during his tenure as the Ravens’ head coach:

“A lot of people will ask, ‘Do you feel the pressure?’ And my answer is, ‘Compared to what?’ Compared to the pressures of being a first-year head coach and wanting to prove to your players, your organization, that you’re up to this job? Compared to the pressures of having won a Super Bowl and returning with a team virtually intact with those expectations, and then losing some key players in that formula? Compared to the pressures of staring into the eyes of the youngest team in the history of the National Football League? Compared to now dealing with a team that clearly did not live up to its expectations? No. The urgency has always been there, the pressures have always been there, but they manifest themselves differently.

I don’t know of a coach in any circumstance that goes into any season thinking, "You know what, this isn’t that big of a season. There’s not going to be any pressures here. We’ll just do what were going to do and however it turns out will be OK." You just don’t do that. The profession doesn’t allow it.”

It’s difficult to argue with Billick’s logic but if the Ravens get off to a slow start, to borrow an often used Billick term, the dynamics change.  What Billick hasn’t had to encounter before in his coaching career is a mutiny of sorts.  He’s on thin ice and his players know it.  Should the Ravens drop to 2-4, how might Ray Lewis respond?  How might the rest of the team respond to Billick?  Will his pleas to keep a sinking ship afloat be heard?  Might responding to such pleas be like taking orders from your soon to be ex-wife?

The Kansas City Star’s Jason Whitlock is a frequent contributor to Page 2 on  This week he had this to say about B’more’s favorite squad:

“I love the acquisitions of veteran Trevor Pryce and rookie Haloti Ngata for Baltimore’s defensive line. Price and Ngata should make Ray Lewis unstoppable again. Steve McNair solves Baltimore’s QB dilemma. Plus, I recently read John Feinstein’s book about the Ravens, "Next Man Up," and the book made me like and respect Brian Billick.

Also, the city of Baltimore needs a feel-good story after suffering through the TV death of Stringer Bell and the incarceration of Avon Barksdale on ‘The Wire.’”

Feel any better?

Facebook Comments
Share This  
Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24×7 Networks, LLC’s founder (the parent of and His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and he hosts “The Fanimal” also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi.

More from Tony Lombardi


Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

Get More Information