Ravens hope to land Ngata or Bunkley

OWINGS MILLS -- Disgruntled former All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis doesn't have a vote in the Baltimore Ravens' defensive tackle debate, but there's little doubt regarding whether he'd prefer Haloti Ngata or Brodrick Bunkley.

There's really only one bulky run-stopper in the NFL draft that has the girth and strength to occupy the gigantic hole created by Maake Kemoatu's departure, and that's Ngata.

The 6-foot-4, 338-pound Oregon junior represents a major contrast from Bunkley, a swift, sculpted Florida State star who excels as a pass rusher. Ngata is three inches taller and 32 pounds heavier than Bunkley.

It's likely only one might be available for the Ravens' 13th overall pick, and Bunkley has been projected to the Buffalo Bills' eighth pick because they covet a penetrating lineman.

If picking Ngata or Bunkley has an unintended, soothing effect on Lewis, who has complained about the team's defensive personnel and scheme, then so be it. Currently, Baltimore has 315-pound Kelly Gregg at nose guard and 305-pound Justin Bannan at tackle.

"I think Bunkley is more of a playmaker," Ravens director of college scouting Eric DeCosta said. "He is smaller than Ngata. He's a very good pass rusher. Ngata is your prototype, two-gap, 3-4 type of nose tackle.

"He's big and very tough to move off the ball. He's not quite as good of a pass rusher right now, but probably has a higher ceiling than Bunkley."

If the St. Louis Rams draft a cornerback such as Clemson's Tye Hill or Virginia Tech's Jimmy Williams at No. 11 and the Cleveland Browns draft Florida State rush end Kamerion Wimbley at No. 12, then no more obstacles would stand between Baltimore and Ngata.

"I think he could be there at No. 13 and I think the Ravens would jump all over him," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said.

Ngata, which is pronounced NAH-ta, would offer a major show of force in the middle. The Pac-10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year blocked seven kicks in college and was named Oregon's first consensus All-American in 43 years. He overcame triple and double-team blocking attention last season to register 61 tackles and three sacks.

Known as a soft-spoken, devout Mormon, Ngata said his mentality transforms on the football field.
"I guess I have a split personality," Ngata said.

Ngata ran the 40-yard dash in 5.16 seconds at the scouting combine and bench pressed 225 pounds 37 times.
However, there have been questions raised about his conditioning and intensity.

"For the most part, he plays pretty hard," DeCosta said. "He has a good motor. You try to run between the tackles and you can't. What he'll do as a pass rusher is different than what he'll do as a run stuffer."

As much as they like Ngata, the Ravens definitely wouldn't be disappointed if Bunkley was available.

Bunkley led the Seminoles with nine sacks and 25 tackles for losses last season. The 6-foot-1, 306-pounder made a power move at the combine by pumping out 44 repetitions of 225 pounds and clocked a 4.91.

"I don't want to sound cocky, but it speaks to the statistics," Bunkley said. "I would think someone with those skills would be considered one of the best. I'm physical. I'm strong. I'm 306 pounds, but not really what you'd consider fat. I just figured I would get a lot of attention."

Unlike Ngata, Bunkley has an off-field blemish on his permanent record. He was arrested in 2003 for stealing a video game and paid a fine and served 16 hours of community service.

"He's explosive and he can push the pocket," DeCosta said. "Just from the standpoint of rushing the passer from the interior and playing hard, he's probably the best guy in the draft."

If they're unable to draft Ngata or Bunkley, the Ravens aren't out of options.

The Ravens have eliminated LSU's Claude Wroten from consideration because of his multiple off-field issues, including an arrest for marijuana possession with intent to distribute that was later dropped. He also tested positive for marijuana at the combine and as a junior.

They have concerns about the effort and consistency of Michigan's Gabe Watson, a 6-3, 340-pounder who was benched briefly last year.

"He's big, thick and explosive," DeCosta said. "He would scare the heck out of me in the first round and will probably be a second-round pick. He doesn't have a Ravens mentality."

However, North Carolina State defensive tackle John McCargo might be a strong value in the second round where the Ravens draft 44th overall.

At 6-foot-2, 306 pounds with 4.9 speed, McCargo acted as a blue-collar contrast to the flashier games of Wolfpack defensive ends Mario Williams and Manny Lawson. McCargo has recovered from a stress fracture that cost him half of last season.

"I think his best is yet to come," DeCosta said. "He's a little bit inconsistent, but has some really good tape, especially against Virginia Tech. He shows flashes and is strong and athletic. He's a good prospect."

Here's a look at defensive line options for the Baltimore Ravens heading into the NFL draft. This list doesn't include North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams because he's slated to be drafted in the first five picks. It excludes LSU defensive tackle Claude Wroten because the Ravens have removed him from their draft board due to multiple character issues.

1. Florida State DT Brodrick Bunkley
2. Oregon DT Haloti Ngata
3. North Carolina State DT John McCargo
4. Florida State OLB/DE Kamerion Wimbley
5. North Carolina State DE Manny Lawson
6. Michigan DT Gabe Watson
7. Penn State DE Tamba Hali
8. Boston College DE Mathias Kiwanuka
9. Miami DT Orien Harris
10. Texas DT Rodrigue Wright
11. LSU DT Kyle Williams
12. Louisville DT Montavious Stanley
12. Virginia Tech DT Jonathan Lewis
13. Tennessee DT Jesse Mahelona

Aaron Wilson writes for Ravens Insider and the Carroll County Times.

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