Comparing B.J. Raji To The Top Defensive Tackles In The Draft

I've been a fan of NT B.J. Raji even before the Green Bay Packers drafted him. Coming off the disappointing 2008 season, which I blamed in large part on a suspect run defense, I was eager for the Packers to draft someone for the defensive line. In 2009, it was really Raji or bust as there were only two players labeled as defensive tackles who were drafted in the first round

This year features two Top Five talents at defensive tackle: Auburn's Nick Fairley and Alabama's Marcell Dareus. Doug Farrar writes about Dareus as a "do-it-all" option as a run defender and pass rusher, while Fairley can "slice and dice blocking schemes" as a pass rusher but may not be an elite run-stopper. 

At 337 lbs. Raji has more size than either of them, but he isn't quite the run stopping anchor I envisioned. Maybe that's due in part to the Packers defensive schemes. They often sacrifice some against the run by playing with only two defensive line set in order to beef up the pass defense with an extra cornerback. As a pass rusher, Pro Football Focus points out that he just keeps getting better. 

It would be a stretch to compare him to Fairley, but there are similarities between him and Dareus. When you see either of these players coming off the board in the draft, those particular teams are probably looking for their own Raji while the Packers already have him.

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