Saturday, April 25, 2009

And the #9 pick is...B.J Raji!

Packers' GM Ted Thompson couldn't have a bigger smile on his face. If in fact it was the case as noted here earlier and as reported by Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Packers beat reporter, Bob McGinn, that Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree was the highest rated player on their draft board, then seeing Crabtree drop to them at #9 had to be a dream come true.

But apparently, need rather than best possible player won out this time. Boston College nose tackle B.J. Raji is the Packers' pick at #9. Not that Raji isn't a great player. Or that he doesn't fit a real need.

A few days ago we would have been thrilled to have Raji drop to us at #9. Then the Crabtree talk started swirling. Definitely he'd add an exciting element to an already good receiving corps.

But a good nose tackle to anchor the defensive line in the new 3-4 scheme had to be at the top of the need list. To get a top player at a spot of top have to like the pick...even if you might not agree with it. Although apparently, for one of the rare times in his tenure as GM, Thompson was actually cheered by those attending the Draft Day party in the Lambeau Field Atrium when the pick was announced. When this was pointed out to Thompson during his press conference immediately after making the pick, Thompson said, "They must be getting soft." Ya gotta like Ted's deadpan humor.

The pundits on ESPN definitely thought it was a great pick for the Packers, too. Former QB Steve Young said that in the years when the Packers and 'Niners were matched against each other, Gilbert Brown wrecked havoc upon them, thus showing the impact a good nose tackle can have. We all know how good Gilbert was. Let's hope that Raji matches if not exceeds "The Gravedigger" over the course of his career.

From the Packers official website: "Raji started 37-of-49 games at Boston College, recording 105 tackles (59 solos) with 12.5 sacks for minus 78 yards, 32.5 stops for losses of 136 yards and four quarterback pressures."

The Packers have one more pick to make today -- #41 overall -- barring any of Ted's wheeling and dealing.

Oh, and for those fans who voted in our poll and said that the Pack would trade out of the #9 pick...nope. Not this time. But you can now tell us whether or not you like the pick of Raji. Just vote in the poll in the righthand column anytime today or tomorrow.

Go Pack Go!

You can also see live video (at least, when streamed) from the Packers here. For a peek inside the draft room during draft hours, click here.