Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan Ready To Fill Haloti Ngata Gap

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Of course, Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams wasn't happy to see Haloti Ngata go. Nobody around Baltimore is. 

But the Ravens were willing to trade Ngata in part because they know what they have around and behind him, specifically with two young defensive linemen in Williams and rising sophomore Timmy Jernigan.

"It stinks to lose him," Williams said. "He's a great player, a well-established pro, a great mentor that I'm going to miss terribly. Guys like Haloti, it's tough to replace guys like that. But I'm definitely ready for the challenge."

Ngata received a grade of plus-18.8 from Pro Football Focus (PFF) last year, which put him ninth among NFL defensive ends. That wasn't all that much better than Williams and Jernigan.

Williams broke out in his second season, starting 14 regular-season games and making 46 tackles, 0.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Williams got a plus-15.6 grade from PFF, ranking him as the 10th-best defensive tackle/nose tackle in the NFL. He was fourth-best against the run.

Despite playing in just 12 games and starting three, Jernigan piled up a plus-8.9 PFF rating and came in just five spots behind Ngata in defensive end rankings. He got positive marks in run defense and pass rush with a slight edge towards getting at the quarterback (just like Ngata).

Even before the Ravens traded Ngata, General Manager Ozzie Newsome pointed to the "good, young talent" he already had on the roster.

"Jernigan, I think he has a high ceiling," Newsome said during the season review press conference. "I think Brandon Williams is probably as good a nose tackle as there is in the league right now."

Considering Williams already started nearly every game, Jernigan will be the one to get a much bigger increase in playing time. The second-round Florida State product started three games while Ngata was suspended for performance- enhancing drugs and performed well, making 10 tackles and two sacks.

Jernigan also highly impressed Williams, proving he can handle a bigger load.

"He's a straight-up pit bull. He just keeps coming at you," Williams said. "He's so quick with his hands and feet that he stuns guys. I even see it in practice during one-on-ones. He goes by them like they're standing still."

Dating back to 2006, when Ngata entered the league, the Ravens have allowed the fewest rushing touchdowns in the league (63) and third fewest rushing yards (93.1).

Last year, Baltimore ranked fourth in average rushing yards allowed per game (88.3) and were tied for fifth with just eight rushing touchdowns allowed.

Williams is confident that kind of dominance won't fade without one of its biggest stars. He pointed to more than just himself and Jernigan. Williams noted outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, a couple of outstanding inside linebackers behind him in C.J. Mosley and Daryl Smith, and the secondary.

"We're still going to have a great defense," Williams said. "A lot of offenses are probably going to think we have a weak link now, but they're going to be shocked when it's the same as last year."

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