Wednesday, April 29, 2009

2009 Green Bay Packers Draft Picks

Packers General Manager Ted Thompson is known for saying that a team's foundation is in its offensive and defensive line - its big guys. But with the No. 9 pick in Saturday's NFL Draft, Thompson doesn't believe he selected just another big guy in Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji. He believes the 6-foot-2, 337-pounder is capable of being a special player up front in the defense's new 3-4 scheme, bringing both stoutness against the run and disruption against the pass. And that conviction was strong enough to select Raji over Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who was the near-consensus top offensive playmaker in the draft and surprisingly available at the No. 9 slot. "He's a rare guy physically," Thompson said of Raji. "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 of skill set that he brings. The good Lord just didn't make many people like this."

Outside linebacker Clay Matthews did not take a traditional path to the NFL, going from a 205-pound walk-on at USC to a first-round pick that the Packers moved up 15 spots to select on Saturday with the No. 26 overall choice. Trading up in the draft has not been a traditional occurrence either during General Manager Ted Thompson's tenure in Green Bay, but the Packers sent their second-round pick (No. 41) and two third-round selections (Nos. 73 and 83) to the New England Patriots in order to acquire the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Matthews. Along with nose tackle B.J. Raji, it was the first time since 1993 (Wayne Simmons and George Teague) that the Packers selected two players in the first round. "Having a team move up to draft you really shows they have an interest in you and they want you on their team and they are looking forward to you making an impact," Matthews said. "I'm very much pleased to end up in Green Bay."

It seems like Ted Thompson knew what he was looking for and how to utilize his picks. Hopefully we'll see some results from these picks this season.