16

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: William Campbell, DT Michigan

Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: DT William Campbell

Player Information:

William Campbell, DT Michigan
6-5, 311 pounds
Hometown: Detroit. MI

STATS

Pro Day: 

40 yard: 5.15

Bench: 35

Vert: 27″

Broad: 107″

3 cone: 7.28

News and Notes:

William Campbell is your quintessential late round/priority rookie free agent.  Coming into Michigan, Williams was a 5 star recruit who never lived up to expectations; typically overweight and unrefined, Williams bottomed out when he was asked to switch to offensive line during his sophomore season.  That didn’t work out either and by his junior year he was back to defense.  Things took a turn for the better when Williams reported to camp in his senior year after dropping 46 pounds, which translated to on the field production.  However, just as things were improving, Williams was charged with  felony malicious-destruction-of-property when he attempted to slide across a car hood ala Starsky and Hutch.  In the end Campbell presents an enticing mix of size and athleticism muddled with immaturity and inexperienced.

 What they’re saying about him:

  • CBSSports.com: “Looks the part with a tall, well-built frame, broad shoulders and a large wingspan (80 inches). Can carry a lot of weight on his frame without losing his athleticism. Quick feet for his size with the agility to collapse inside and disrupt the pocket. Natural power to bully blockers at the point of attack, reset and redirect. Takes up room and has the size/strength combination to command double-teams.”

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • Looks the part of a potential 3-4 DE.
  • Very fast for a guy his size; at about 1:20, Campbell starts at the line of scrimmage at the Alabama 35 and hustles to make the tackle at the Michigan 35.  Not many 300+ lbs defensive tackles can run 30 yards to catch up to a running back.
  • Up against the best representation of a NFL offensive line in college, I though Williams acquitted himself fairly well.  He managed to beat Barrett Jones twice (thought to be the best center in the draft) and Chance Warmack three times (though to be the best guard in the draft), once for a sack where Williams swatted Warmack’s punch and “turned the corner” on Warmack (check it out at 2:40, it’s like Clay Matthews in super slow motion)  It should be mentioned that Williams was also destroyed on a couple plays, and it’s not like he’s the second coming of Reggie White.
8

March

Packers B.J. Raji in 2012: Warrior or Shrinking Violet?

B.J. Raji 2012

B.J. Raji

From the time BJ Raji was drafted in 2009, I’ve taken a special interest in this player. Maybe because he’s from a local town here in NJ, maybe because I was hoping he would be one of the linchpins for Dom Caper’s new 3-4 defense – the next “Gravedigger.”

I wrote a profile on Raji back in May of 2009, and later talked to some people who saw him in his HS playing days. “Really nice kid from a nice family,” I heard repeatedly, followed by, not sure if he has enough “mean” in his personality to thrive in the trenches in the NFL.

I discounted those comments for the most part. Surely the Packers wouldn’t have spent a top-10 draft choice on him if the Packers didn’t think he was a potential star.

B.J. Raji made the Pro Bowl in 2011, probably based on the rep earned by his 8 sacks and strong sophomore season  in 2010 (film study here).  Ironically, though, he just wasn’t that good in 2011.

Raji’s 2012 season for the Packers was noticeably better than 2011, but one major thing was missing; consistency.  It seemed to these non-expert eyes that as the season unfolded, Raji had some very strong performances, and some downright awful ones.

Raji terrorized the Bears (film study here) late in the season and a few weeks later was bounced around like a pinball machine by the 49ers offensive line. With those two offensive lines being on opposite ends of the talent scale, a thought crossed my mind; were’s Raji’s “good” performances all against “bad” offensive lines and vica versa?

While a film study would be the optimal way to examine this hypothesis, that kind of free time eludes me, especially with all our NFL Draft prep going on. So, I decided to go to the folks that examine every player on every play over the course of an entire season; Pro Football Focus.

For a little background, lets first take a look at how Raji has graded out over his first four seasons in the NFL.

Year OVERALL Pass Rush Run Defense
       
2009 -4.8 -5.5 1.8
2010 15.1 12.7 -4.3
2011 -20.8 -2.4 -21.2
2012 6.5 2.8 5.9
20

October

Packers Video: Ryan Pickett Best Packers Nose Tackle Hands down

Packers Nose Tackle Ryan Pickett

Packers’ Best Nose Tackle: Ryan Pickett

Ryan Pickett had a whale of a game against the Houston Texans.  Their Pro Bowler center, the 6’4″ 290lb Chris Meyers, was no match for Pickett. Double teams were no match for Pickett, except when he got chop blocked (more on that later).

The best the Texans were able to do against Pickett was keep him on the line of scrimmage. There was no knocking him back off the line. There was no  getting bounced back and forth between two blockers. These are things I’ve witnessed too much from BJ Raji.

Nothing against Raji, but he is not your prototypical nose tackle that is content with eating blockers and stuffing inside running lanes. Perhaps it’s the Packers’ own fault for also playing him at DE and letting him get a taste of pass rushing glory. To my eyes Raji is a lot more interested in trying to get to the QB than doing what a nose tackle’s primary job is.  I also think he doesn’t always bring that rabid dog intensity I like from my defensive linemen.

The Packers held Arian Foster (averaging 106 yards per game coming into the Packers contest) to 29 yards in 17 carries – 1.7 ypc average. If you don’t think a big reason for that was Ryan Pickett, you need to go watch the game again. There were no running lanes for Foster between the tackles. He scored two short yardage touchdowns, both by bouncing the play off tackle to avoid a hard charging Ryan Pickett.

Lets look at those two plays:

 

 

 

It didn’t take long for the Texans to realize what they were dealing with in Pickett. After only a quarter of play, the Texans decided to deploy some dirty, but legal tactics: the chop block (or cut block, whichever you prefer).

Wait, aren’t chop blocks illegal, you say? Well take a look and tell me if you think this play should be called a penalty:

 

When I watched the game a second time and saw this play, I hit the roof. “Why wasn’t this a penalty?” I asked. Well, because it’s a legal cut block.

19

April

2011 Draft Prep: Green Bay Packers Needs by Position – Defensive Line

In this next installment of our 2011 Draft Prep series looking at the Green Bay Packers’ needs by position, we are going to analyze how the defensive line currently stands. Strengths, weaknesses, depth, and uncertainties will all be examined to determine the urgency of need in regards to next season.

This series is meant to help us figure out the needs of the team and how the draft could be used to improve the weaker areas. While Ted Thompson largely uses the “best player available” (BPA) approach, his decision to trade up or down the board is affected by what position players he would prefer to have. Additionally, the picking up of players in the later rounds and in undrafted free agency is often based on need, since the talent is less defined.

CURRENT PLAYERS:

#90 B.J. Raji [NT]
24 yrs. old / 2 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2013

#79 Ryan Pickett [DE/NT]
31 yrs. old / 10 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2013

#95 Howard Green [DE]
32 yrs. old / 6 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2011

#91 Justin Harrell [DE]
27 yrs. old / 4 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#94 Jarius Wynn [DE]
24 yrs. old / 2 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#96 Mike Neal [DE]
23 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2013

#98 C.J. Wilson [DE]
24 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2013

#68 Jay Ross [NT]
23 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed to reserve/future contract

#60 Curtis Young [LB/DE]
24 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed to reserve/future contract

#77 Cullen Jenkins [DE]
30 yrs. old / 7 yrs. exp.
Free Agent

#97 Johnny Jolly [DE]
28 yrs. old / 4 yrs. exp.
(Currently suspended from the NFL)

* Contract information acquired from RotoWorld.com

POSITION STRENGTHS:

If there is one player I would have to call the foundation of the Green Bay Packers defense, it would undoubtedly be B.J. “The Freezer” Raji.

Throughout the season, Raji was a constant force to be reckoned with. He excelled in his role as the anchor of the defensive line, eating up blockers and pushing the pocket when needed. Plus, it’s hard not to be impressed with a nose tackle that amassed 34 solo tackles, 7.5 sacks, and a pick-six all in one year. To top it off, he played over 85% of the snaps during the season. I don’t think it’s too much to expect more of the same in 2011 from such a young, motivated player.