NFL draft preview: Defensive linemen who might fit Packers
Sixth in a 10-part NFL draft position-preview series looking at prospects who might be of interest to the Packers. Today: Defensive line.
This isn’t a need. The Packers’ aggressive approach toward building their defensive line — especially through the draft — has ensured that. With Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, Muhammad Wilkerson and Dean Lowry, the Packers have four starting-caliber defensive linemen. A fifth, 2017 third-round pick Montravius Adams, gives them an intriguing prospect at the position. But if the Packers have proven anything, it’s that they highly value defensive line talent. Could they take a defensive lineman high in the draft for the third straight year? It’s unlikely, because this really isn’t a need, but never say never. Priority level: Low.
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VITA VEA, WASHINGTON
6-4, 347 pounds
The good: Athletic specimen who benched 41 reps at the combine and ran a 5.10 40. Despite size, occasionally lined up as an edge rusher early in his college career. Former high school running back who had 11 rushing touchdowns in Milpitas, Calif. Showed athleticism in college, occasionally recording tackles on punt coverage, and even blocking one punt last season. Nimble, playing much lighter on his feet than bulk would suggest. Has drawn comparisons to All-Pro nose tackle Haloti Ngata.
The bad: Needs more consistency at the next level if he’s to reach his All-Pro ceiling. Not a quick-twitch athlete, will be limited to interior at professional level. Aside from bull rush, has shown little in his pass-rush arsenal.
Projected round: 1.
B.J. HILL, NORTH CAROLINA STATE
6-3¼, 311 pounds
The good: Playing in Bradley Chubb’s shadow, Hill did the dirty work on the Wolfpack’s defensive line. Athletic and shows some ability to penetrate gaps. Has knack for finding the ball, as seen with 55 tackles last season. Expected to be drafted on Day 2. If Hill slips to Day 3, perhaps his talent could intrigue the Packers.
The bad: Needs to get stronger at point of attack. After showing some promise as a pass rusher early in his career, didn’t have much sack production in college. Just three sacks total the past two seasons.
Projected round: 3.
KAHLIL McKENZIE, TENNESSEE
6-2¾, 314 pounds
The good: Bloodlines. Father Reggie McKenzie played four seasons with Oakland Raiders, where he has been general manager since 2012. Kahlil McKenzie grew up in Green Bay, where his father was a longtime Packers executive. Projects as late-round pick, but former five-star prep recruit is big and strong with good athleticism.
The bad: Kahlil left school one year early after starting just 12 games at Tennessee, where his father played. Production never came close to reaching his pedigree and raw talent. Just three sacks in three seasons. Needs a lot of refinement, but upside could be worth late-round pick.
Projected round: 6-7.
Best and bust
Perhaps Ted Thompson’s worst draft pick ever came at defensive line, selecting Tennessee’s Justin Harrell with the No. 16 pick overall in 2007. More recently, one of Thompson’s shrewdest picks was Mike Daniels, whom he selected in the fourth round (No. 132 overall) in 2012. Aaron Kampman, meanwhile, was a fifth-round pick in 2002 (No. 156 overall) who went to consecutive Pro Bowls in 2006 and 2007 and finished his career fourth on the Packers’ sack list with 54.