Harbaugh: Ngata will make Lions better in every way

Posted Mar 24, 2015

John Harbaugh probably knows Haloti Ngata better than any coach in the NFL, and he thinks the defensive tackle is a great addition for the Lions.

PHOENIX -- John Harbaugh probably knows Haloti Ngata better than any coach in the NFL.

When he took over as head coach for the Baltimore Ravens in 2008, Ngata was entering his third season in the NFL with the Ravens. In Harbaugh’s first season as head coach, Ngata was named to his first All-Pro team.

Haloti NgataNgata and Harbaugh (Photo: AP Images)

“Obviously an iconic player for the Baltimore Ravens,” Harbaugh said at Tuesday’s AFC coaches breakfast at the NFL Annual Meetings.

“Difficult loss for us. He’s been a mainstay for us as a player and a leader and it’s going to be something we’re going to have to deal with and overcome.”

According to Harbaugh, Ngata’s $16 million salary cap number for the 2015 season forced the Ravens to trade their five-time All-Pro and Pro Bowler to the Detroit Lions right as free agency began. The Lions had to give up a fourth- and fifth-round selection in this year’s draft to get him. He counts $8.5 million on the Lions cap this season.

“Great addition for the Lions,” Harbaugh said. “He’ll make them a better team in every way.”

Ngata was predominately a run-stuffing nose tackle in the Ravens’ 3-4 defense, but Harbaugh said Ngata is so athletic and so versatile that he fits in any scheme, including the Lions’ base 4-3.

“He plays those techniques. The three technique, shade on the nose, 2I, he plays all the same techniques,” he said. “There won’t be any problems for him.”

“He’s a good technique player, but he’s a great physical talent. He’s a big, fast, leverage, powerful guy. Nobody moves him out of there.”

That should help the Lions maintain one of the league’s best run-stopping defenses in the NFL.

Detroit became the ninth team in NFL history to finish the season allowing less than 70 yards rushing per game. In 16 games, the Lions allowed 69.3 rushing yards per game and finished with the ninth-best opponent rushing yards allowed per game average in NFL history.

“He’s going to be a great leader for a young team,” Harbaugh said. “He’s going to help coach Caldwell and coach Austin. Obviously they know each other and they’ll be on the same page. So, he’s a good fit for Detroit.”