James Ihedigbo, S #44
Hometown: Northampton, MA
Experience: 6 years
The Ravens turned a lot of heads earlier this week when they released third-year cornerback Danny Gorrer. Baltimore was forced to make a move after safety Emanuel Cook went down with an injury. The Ravens would replace him with safety James Ihedigbo. The sixth year safety out of Massachusetts was brought in to provide much needed depth in the secondary.
James Ihedigbo made a name for himself in the Massachusetts program as a tremendous leader. He would finish up his collegiate campaign as a senior captain. His tenacity on the football field made him one of the better blitzing safeties in the NCAA. In his last 26 games, he registered 12.5 sacks. He would end his senior year with 72 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, five sacks, and four forced fumbles (ranked No. 1 in the Atlantic 10).
Though he succeeded in the collegiate level, James Ihedigbo was not drafted in the 2007 NFL Draft. He would later sign as an undrafted free agent in 2007 with the New York Jets. Ihedigbo would start his NFL career primarily on special teams, but his tenacity and overall playmaking ability made it hard to keep him off the field. Though his aggressiveness made him a liability on play-action passes and counters early in his career, he soon adapted and become one of the more versatile players in the Jets locker room. At any given moment, Ihedigbo would be asked to play both safety positions, weak-side linebacker, or dime package. The Jets even created a defensive package (Dig) just for him during goalline situations due to his uncanny ability to get to the backfield
Though he never saw extensive playing time in New York, the Patriots saw enough to sign him to a contract in 2011. With the loss of key players in the secondary, James would start 12 games in 2011. Through 16 games, Ihedigbo would register 69 tackles. After the 2011 season, the Patriots resigned Ihedigbo to a new contract. After the preseason, New England decided to part ways with the safety in order to trim their roster to 53 players.
Now that Ihedigbo has signed with Baltimore, it will be interesting to see how the Ravens utilize the talented safety. The Ravens have made a living out of bringing the best out of players. For instance, many believed that Bernard Pollard was a liability in coverage. But in Baltimore, Pollard has experienced tremendous success. With Pollard and Ihedigbo possessing very similar skill sets, it may be a very interesting year for the sixth year safety out of Massachusetts.
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Samuel Njoku is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He has been an avid blogger and writer for over five years. With his extensive knowledge on the Baltimore Ravens, Samuel is able to give an educated analysis on the Ravens performance on the field and in the Ravens front office. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.