Defensive tackle B.J. Raji's second half of last season was as good as any prolonged stretch in his four-year career. / File/PackersNews.com
Once again this year, Packers beat writer Rob Demovsky will provide a pre-draft breakdown of the Packersí roster at each position heading into the April 25-27 NFL draft.
Hereís the position schedule:
Today: Defensive line
April 11: Linebackers
April 12: Defensive backs
April 13: Offensive line
April 14: Running backs
April 15: Receivers
April 16: Tight ends
April 17: Quarterbacks
April 18: Special teams
What they have: Ryan Pickett (DT), B.J. Raji (DT), C.J. Wilson (DE), Jerel Worthy (DE), Mike Neal (DE), Mike Daniels (DE), Jordan Miller (DT), Johnny Jolly (DT).
Position analysis: General manager Ted Thompson used two draft picks on this position last year, picking Worthy in the second round (51st overall) and Daniels in the fourth (132nd overall). Neither is a sure-fire starter. Worthy was wildly inconsistent and remains a questionable fit for defensive coordinator Dom Capersí scheme. Daniels was effective in the sub packages but might not be a three-down player. Rajiís numbers (45 tackles, no sacks) donít tell the whole story. His second half of last season was as good as any prolonged stretch in his four-year career. Same goes for Pickett, who played in every game for the first time since 2008 and even at age 33 led the teamís defensive linemen with 75 tackles (including 27 solo stops). He looks like heís got at least another year left. Wilson was solid as a base right end run-stopper but played very little in the sub packages. Neal might be ready to take the next step after finally showing he can stay healthy and ranking second on the team with 4 Ĺ sacks after returning from his four-game suspension. Miller was a late-season practice squad promotion.
Jolly is the great unknown. He was reinstated after serving a three-year suspension for violating the NFLís substance-abuse policy. The Packers were initially leaning toward releasing him right away but instead agreed to take a look and see whether he can still play and stay clean. He still has probation issues to deal with stemming from his early release from prison. His last football came in the playoffs following the 2009 season.
Said coach Mike McCarthy last month: ďJohnny, Iíve always considered him one of our guys, and everybody knows what heís been through. It would be great if this opportunity works out. But as an organization, we have a responsibility to go through the process.Ē
The future: Even before Worthy ripped up his knee in the regular-season finale, there were depth issues. The Packers are still looking for that Cullen Jenkins-type defensive end who can play in the base and sub packages and effectively rush the passer while also holding up against the run. This remains a position of significant need. Guys like UCLAís Datone Jones and SMUís Margus Hunt could be there for the Packers at 26th in the first round.