Size matters in Packers picking Raji

April, 25, 2009
4/25/09
6:27
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Brett Longdin

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When it came down to it, the Packers chose the big body over the star wideout.

By taking Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji with the No. 9 pick with Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree still on the board, defensive coordinator Dom Capers scored a huge prospect to plug in as the anchor of his 3-4 defense.

"There are a lot of difficult calls during the course of a draft and we think a lot of Michael Crabtree and a couple other guys," Packers general manager Ted Thompson said. "But we feel confident we did the right thing.

"All things being equal, you guys know how much we value big people, both on the offensive and defensive line. The good ones are really hard to find and it gets to be a supply and demand thing. It doesn't necessarily take away the value of another player at a different position. It's just that we've always put a lot of emphasis on that."

One of the things that impressed Thompson and his staff the most was the versatility the 6-foot-1 1/2, 337-pound Raji possesses. And it's because of his unique skills the Packers don't anticipate Raji to have to come off the field in passing situations.

"He's a very powerful, explosive interior defensive lineman that has ability to definitely play the run," Thompson said. "He also shows ability and power to be a pass-rusher from the inside.

"He's a classic nose tackle build. Hopefully we're taking football players. We think B.J. Raji's a really good football player. He's more than a space eater. ... He's genuinely a powerful, powerful man, especially in his lower body. He has the ability to take people backwards where they don't want to go. He also has the quickness to go around them. It's unbelievably hard to find the combination skill set that he brings. The good Lord just didn't make many people like this."

For those who wanted Crabtree with the No. 9 choice, he'll join the 49ers at Lambeau Field on Nov. 22.

Brett Longdin is an ESPN.com blog editor based in Wisconsin.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?