Jared Gaither

10 Most Underrated NFL Players

10. Shaun O’Hara
Since being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2000, O’Hara has developed into one of the games best interior offensive linemen. Now entering his 11th season in the league, O’Hara continues to get better with age. He finally made the Pro Bowl each of the past two seasons and likely has more to come.

9. Matt Roth
The Dolphins waived Roth midway through the 2009 season and the Browns capitalized on Bill Parcells’ mistake. Roth was dominant down the stretch in Rob Ryan’s defense, excelling against both the pass and the run. He’s one of the most well-rounded 3-4 outside linebackers in the league and still has his best years ahead of him.

8. Kelly Gregg
While Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis and others get all the credit for the Ravens’ defensive success, Gregg is the glue that holds it all together. He doesn’t generate the stats to get attention or make highlight-worthy plays, but he is one of the most consistent nose tackles in the game.

7. Antoine Winfield
Winfield has been regarded as a solid cornerback for over a decade now, but I don’t think he’s ever gotten the attention he deserves. He’s solid in coverage, but really excels against the run. Perhaps only Charles Woodson is more well-round in terms of ability to defend both the pass and the run at an elite level.

6. Vincent Jackson
As Jackson fights for a new contract in San Diego most fans are wondering how a player like Jackson could demand so much money. While I can’t defend his actions and his willingness to sit out the season, I will argue that he belongs among the highest-paid receivers in the game. As far as complete receivers go, only Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald are better. Jackson has it all – the speed to stretch the field, great hands, and is arguably the best blocking receiver in the game.

5. Keith Brooking
Brooking flew under the radar for years in Atlanta and finally stepped into the spotlight in Dallas last season. The 5-time Pro Bowler has never been viewed as one of the game’s truly elite linebackers, yet at age 35 he remains among the best at his position. He lacks the stats – sacks and interceptions – to get noticed, but he’s one of those players that is simply all over the field. When the Cowboys defense makes a key stop, chances are Brooking was in the middle of it.

4. Jared Gaither
The Ravens tried to bait another team into signing Gaither as a restricted free agent this season. Rumors have circled the league that they’re unhappy with his work ethic. But whatever it is about him that the Ravens aren’t high on, it certainly didn’t slow him down in 2009. He was one of the game’s most dominant left tackles, protecting Joe Flacco’s blind side. He allowed just four sacks and two hits all season – ranking among the game’s most efficient left tackles.

3. Pierre Thomas
Thomas is often overshadowed by Reggie Bush, but he is the true star of the Saints backfield. He is one of the most well-rounded running backs in the game, and is perhaps most valuable as a receiver. According to ProFootballFocus.com the Saints targeted Thomas 42 times last season, he caught 39 of them and didn’t drop a single catchable pass.

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 06:  Robert Meachem #17 of the New Orleans Saints scores a touchdown against the Washington Redskins on December 6, 2009 at FedExField in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Meachem may be on the verge of stardom

2. Shaun Rogers
Shaun Rogers got a bad reputation in Detroit as being lazy and overweight. Since coming over to Cleveland, Rogers has reestablished himself as one of the game’s premier nose tackles. In terms of clogging holes and stuffing the run, he’s on the same level as Albert Haynesworth and Kevin Williams.

1. Robert Meachem
Meachem finally overcame a long string of injuries and played a key role in the Saints Super Bowl run in 2009. He started seven games for the Saints and proved to be a valuable deep threat, averaging over 16 yards per catch. What really makes him stand out, however, is the little things he does. He is an above-average blocker and has arguably the most consistent hands in the game. In 2009 he was one of just three receivers with over 40 catches and zero drops.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Browns, Chargers, Cowboys, Giants, Ravens, Saints, Vikings 9 Comments

Training Camp Preview: Ravens

Baltimore Ravens rookie tackle Jared Gaither walks off the practice field after the first full day of training camp Photo via Newscom

Will Gaither still be in Baltimore in August?

Biggest Question Mark: Jared Gaither
Will he be a Raven when the season starts? Will he be happy if he is? There are plenty of questions surrounding Gaither and seeming no answers in sight. The Ravens practically tried to give him away, begging a team to sign the restricted free agent and then trying to trade him. But they couldn’t find any takers, which is baffling considering his impressive 2009 season. Assuming he remains in Baltimore, he’ll be moved over to right tackle where he should continue to dominate.

Position Battle to Watch: Wide Receiver
Anquan Boldin will be Joe Flacco’s go-to guy, but who will step up as his second and third options? Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason have experience in Baltimore’s system, but Donte’ Stallworth will have a chip on his shoulder after sitting out the 2009 season.

Impact Rookie: Terrence Cody
Cody likely won’t start in Baltimore, but he gives them unmatched depth on the defensive line. They’ll likely use him in a rotation with Haloti Ngata and Kevin Gregg at nose tackle which will keep all three players fresh. If Cody can perform at an elite level for 25-30 plays per game, he’ll give the Ravens a truly dominant defensive line.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Ravens Comments Off

Bills want Jared Gaither

In one of the worst non-moves of the draft, the Bills failed to land a left tackle. Now they may be taking steps toward rectifying that.

The Ravens have been practically trying give Jared Gaither away, and now the Bills may finally be stepping up as a suitor.

Baltimore Ravens Training Camp 2007

Is Gaither headed to Buffalo?

Gaither has been on the trade market this entire offseason since the Ravens placed only a 1st-round tender on the restricted free agent. Now, despite a dominant 2009 season at left tackle, the Ravens have been using Gaither on the right side. Its more clear than ever that they don’t envision him as a key part of the team in 2010.

I’ve been begging for someone to sign Gaither this entire offseason. He’s simply one of the best young left tackles in the game. However, the Ravens’ willingness to part with him has scared teams off. Rumors about his lack of work ethic have swirled and his stock has plummeted.

Seemingly, he would be a perfect fit in Buffalo. They can’t afford to enter 2010 with Demetrius Bell as their starting left tackle. Gaither would help stabilize their offensive line and perhaps give the Bills a chance at mediocrity in 2010.

However, the Bills should be cautious about giving up too much. As good as Gaither was in 2009, he isn’t worth the Bills 2011 1st-round pick, which will likely be in the top 10. The Bills still need a franchise quarterback and they can’t pass up a shot at Jake Locker, Andrew Luck or Ryan Mallett for a left tackle with work ethic concerns.

But if the Bills can land Gaither for a 2nd-round pick or less, it’s a steal and perhaps one of the best moves of the offseason.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bills, Ravens Comments Off

Will someone please sign Jared Gaither

I’ve asked this before, but he remains unsigned, so I’ll ask it again: Why doesn’t anyone want Jared Gaither?

WI: Baltimore Ravens v Green Bay PackersIn his third year in the league in ’09, Gaither blossomed into a Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle, more than adequately filling the shoes of his predecessor Jonathan Ogden. He ultimately wasn’t selected to the Pro Bowl, primarily due to the fact that he missed five games last season, but the honor is surely in his future.

If you don’t know much about Gaither its probably due to the fact that he skipped the April draft process, entering the 2007 Supplemental Draft instead. In July ’07 Gaither was ruled academically ineligible for the upcoming season, which prompted the decision. As a result, the Ravens landed themselves a 1st-round talent with a 5th-round selection.

After backing up Ogden in ’07, Gaither took over in 2008. He was impressive as a sophomore, but reached elite status in 2009. Despite his performance, the Ravens only tendered him at the 1st-round level, leaving them susceptible to Gaither signing elsewhere.

Personally, I would rather spend my 1st-round pick on a proven 24-year-old than take a chance on anyone in the draft, even this year’s top prospect, Russell Okung.

ProFootballFocus grades Gaither very favorably, ranking him 6th overall among offensive tackles. However, their ratings are accumulated throughout the season, favoring the players who appeared in all 16 games. Given the fact that he only played 11 games in 2009 I decided to take their ratings and adjust them based on number of snaps played to see where Gaither would rank. Taking the overall rating and dividing by snaps played you get this list “per snap” rating list:

It should be noted that Gaither’s injuries are part of the equation as to why teams may not be interested, but if you simply look at his production on the field there’s no denying his status as an elite left tackle.

Applying this to the draft, how could any team targeting an offensive tackle not give serious consideration to Gaither?

Teams like the Redskins, Seahawks, Raiders, Bills, 49ers, Cardinals and Cowboys are all in the market for an upgrade at left tackle. Would they honestly rather take a risk on Okung, Bryan Bulaga, Trent Williams or Anthony Davis instead of Gaither?

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bills, Cardinals, Cowboys, Free Agency, Raiders, Ravens, Redskins, Seahawks 2 Comments

Who’s going to sign Jared Gaither?

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore RavensJared Gaither may be the most under-appreciated offensive lineman in the game, even by his own team.

Despite an impressive 2009 season the Ravens only placed a 1st-round tender on Gaither, making him an intriguing option for someone else to sign to an offer sheet.

The folks at ProFootballFocus have been pleading for someone to sign Gaither via Twitter, and I couldn’t agree more with their sentiments. Why waste time developing a draft pick when you can get a Pro Bowl-caliber 24-year-old for the same price?

Gaither wasn’t just good in 2009, he was among the game’s elite. He allowed just four sacks in in the 430 pass plays in which he was on the field for, an impressively low percentage. According to ProFootballFocus’ grading system Gaither ranked 3rd among left tackles who played at least 10 games last season, trailing only the two best young tackles in the game, Joe Thomas and Jake Long.

Numerous teams own mid-to-late 1st-round picks and are in the market for a left tackle. The 49ers, Cardinals, Cowboys and Packers are just a few of the teams that would benefit from bringing Gaither aboard rather than trying their luck with Bryan Bulaga, Trent Williams or Anthony Davis.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, 49ers, Cardinals, Cowboys, Free Agency, Packers, Ravens 2 Comments