Predicting the Packers Draft: Defensive Linemen

Defensive line isn’t a vitally important position for the Packers, but they still have to have them. And even with the acquisition of Ricky Jean Francois, the Packers may be in the market for another run stuffer.

But finding a big lineman to battle in the trenches isn’t as easy as it may sound. The Packers have a specific set of physical attributes they look for, and it’ll shape their draft decisions in this area.

What do the Packers look for in the draft on the defensive line?

Given how the Packers deploy their linemen, we’ve again chosen to blur the line between tackles and ends. The Packers like linemen who are around 6-3 and 295 pounds and they have to be able to move.

Green Bay doesn’t waste much time with elephantine plodders: only one Packers defensive lineman has run a 40-yard dash in more than 5.14 seconds: Johnny Jolly plodded through a positively glacial 5.41 sprint in 2006.

What’s the best round to select a defensive lineman?

Defensive linemen are the defense’s version of wide receivers: you need a bunch of them, and there’s a steep drop-off after the first and second rounds.

2016 Pro Football Focus grades by round selected - DL

What rounds have the Packers drafted defensive linemen?

Highest pick: B.J. Raji, 2009
To play a 3-4 defense, a team needs a space eating nose tackle. Ted Thompson made sure the Packers had one when he drafted Raji ninth overall in 2009.

Biggest disappointment: Justin Harrell, 2007
Thompson tried to fortify the Packers’ defense to give Brett Favre one last chance in 2007 when he picked Harrell. Instead, Harrell spent more time on injured reserve.

Best value: Mike Daniels, 2012
Mike Daniels plays every snap like he’s been personally offended by the player across from him, and he’s parlayed that attitude into great success; once a fourth round pick, he’s now one of the NFL’s top defensive linemen.

Who might the Packers draft on the defensive line?

The defensive line may not be a huge position of need, but the Packers have plenty of options if that’s the way they want to go. Eddie Vanderdoes in particular is of note, especially given the Packers’ proclivity for PAC-12 picks, and Nazair Jones also brings a lot to the table. In the late rounds, Charles Walker shows promise inside.

High-end defensive linemen

  • Malik McDowell - Michigan State
  • Montravius Adams - Auburn
  • Caleb Brantley - Florida

Mid-round defensive linemen

  • Eddie Vanderdoes - UCLA
  • Vincent Taylor - Oklahoma State
  • Nazair Jones - North Carolina

Late-round/undrafted defensive linemen

  • Charles Walker - Oklahoma
  • Doug Webb - Harvard
  • Nick James - Mississippi State