With two games already out of the way for the Green Bay Packers, positions of need are already starting to reveal themselves.
Even after a solid win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football, the Packers still had some struggles, particularly against the run. There was one drive that was particularly brutal for Green Bay’s front seven, with the Bears rushing for an astounding 104 yards on a single drive. While that sounds impossible, former APC writer Peter Bukowski explained how it happened.
This week’s draft preview will focus on a couple of prospects to help improve Green Bay’s front seven, along with a weapon to appease Packers fans still clamoring for more wide receivers.
B.J. Ojulari, EDGE, LSU
A big focus for next year’s draft is going to have to be depth on the edge for the Packers. Rashan Gary and Preston Smith are simply playing too many snaps to be sustainable, with their backups Jonathan Garvin and JJ Enagbare not looking like true threats to stop the run or get after the quarterback.
A prospect like BJ Ojulari could at least help with rushing the passer in 2023. The LSU pass-rush specialist had seven sacks in 2021, and has already picked up 1.5 sacks through two games this year.
Scouts will question Ojulari’s frame at 6’3” and 250 pounds, but the edge prospect has a wiry frame with impressive explosiveness off of the snap to put offensive linemen in tough positions to stop him. He doesn’t fear contact either, continuing to move his feet at the point of attack, then disengaging with a variety of pass-rush moves.
At least this year, Ojulari has showcased a solid ability to take on blocks and set the edge when needed. He has an aggressive demeanor and solid play strength to take on pullers, although it’s unclear if he’ll be as effective taking on more physically imposing linemen at the next level.
Ojulari will have a chance to add to his sack total on Saturday against New Mexico.
Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor
Kenny Clark has been a dominant and versatile defensive tackle for years, but there are times when the Packers could benefit by having a much more impressive presence playing head up over the center. This could allow Clark to kick out wider on the defensive line, and with the right player, drastically improve Green Bay’s run defense.
Baylor’s Siaki Ika has the frame that the Packers have been sorely missing from their defensive line. At 6’4” and 358 pounds, Ika is a massive interior defensive lineman but also has some surprising quickness.
Against the run, Ika has a quick first step and is a relentless player when attacking a gap or blocker head-on. He has more issues against double teams than you’d like, but he’s still shown on tape that he can split double teams at times to get into the backfield.
As a pass rusher, Ika’s bull rush is lethal, and interior offensive linemen with weaker anchors will get manhandled trying to stop him. He can always take some quick angle steps to fly into other gaps, making him a possible asset in twists and stunts for NFL defensive coordinators.
There aren't many 358 lbs players that move like Baylor DT Siaki Ika pic.twitter.com/N10m80B98P— Jack Brentnall (@Jack_Brentnall) September 17, 2022
Ika has a real opportunity to become a first-round prospect, but he’ll need to continue to put up strong film for the rest of the year, including this week against Iowa State.
A.T. Perry, WR, Wake Forest
Matt LaFleur loves his wide receivers who are taller than 6’0”, heavier than 200 pounds and love to block. Wake Forest’s A.T. Perry doesn’t quite check that last box, but that didn’t stop the Packers from taking Romeo Doubs in this past draft.
Perry was a three-sport athlete in high school, earning accolades in football, basketball, and the long jump in track before committing to Wake Forest. The 6’5” receiver broke onto the national stage last season, shattering a school record with 15 receiving touchdowns and earning first-team All-ACC honors.
As an outside receiver, Perry does a great job utilizing his size with good body control to position himself to get open on intermediate routes. He’s not going to take the top off of a defense with breakaway speed, but his long strides can help him cover ground and get downfield when needed, and he has reliable hands to make catches on most on-target throws.
Run blocking is where Perry will have to improve, especially if a team like Green Bay is interested in him. If he can work on that, or at least show that he’s willing to work on it, then Perry could be an intriguing replacement for Allen Lazard if the team is unable to work out a deal to bring him back in 2023 and beyond.