Mike McCarthy wasn’t bluffing when the Green Bay Packers coach said on Friday he has no intention of getting lighter on the defensive line.
Based on the comments of Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton at Saturday's NFL combine, the Packers are looking to stay bigger and get better on the defensive line.
Sutton, who played his senior year at 320 pounds, has been praised by teammates and pundits alike for coming into the combine at 303 pounds. When speaking with the Packers though, the team made it clear it would put the weight back on him if he were selected in May’s draft.
“A 4-3 team, they want me to be that penetrating 3 tech. but I talked to the Packers and they are a 3-4 and they were like, ‘if you come here, we’re going to keep the weight on you,’” said Sutton, who’s expected to be a second-day draft choice.
“Because I’m an athletic 320 guy. Wherever they want me to go, I’m going to be there and compete.”
This comes after McCarthy refuted an NFL Network report on Friday that the defense was looking to get smaller and more athletic this offseason instead of utilizing 330-pound run-stuffers like Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji and Johnny Jolly.
McCarthy has been vocal about the changes in store for the league’s 25th-ranked defense, but the report was peculiar given how defensive coordinator Dom Capers traditionally has preferred large, athletic tackles to close gaps in his 3-4 defense.
After all, Capers’ two-gap system is predicated on stopping the run.
This past season, Sutton played up from 280 pounds his junior year and had 48 tackles and four sacks, but felt he played better at a lower weight.
“I believe so he did, as well,” said ASU linebacker Carl Bradford. “He’s more explosive, more dynamic at a lower weight.”
Another NFL Network report said the Packers plan to part ways with both Pickett and Raji, meaning they’ll have to rebuild the line this offseason through either the draft or free agency.
The Packers have four returning linemen on the roster, but no one with more than two years of experience. If they were looking to augment the line through the draft like in 2009 with Raji, Notre Dame’s Louis Nix and Minnesota’s Ra’Shede Hageman are the most highly regarded options.
Hageman (6-6, 316) had a meeting scheduled with the Packers at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday.
Wanting Sutton to play at a heavier weight doesn’t mean the Packers aren’t looking for their returning linemen to bulk up, though. They’d prefer to keep 2013 first-round pick Datone Jones around 290 pounds and fifth-round pick Josh Boyd around the 310 mark.
Boyd was quiet early on, but began rotating in more often near the end of the season. He’s currently the largest linemen on the roster.
“I don't want Josh to bulk up. He's a big man,” said McCarthy of Boyd, who had six tackles in nine games. “Josh did some good things. I think Josh definitely has the flexibility – he's shown he can play the nose, he can play the three-technique. I really like what Josh gave us as a rookie but he needs to take a huge step, and I think he'll be one of those players that does that in his second year.”