Inside the 2009 NFL Draft: Evander Hood vs. B.J. Raji

In the 2009 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers both selected defensive tackles with the intention of anchoring their respective units.  B.J. Raji (Boston College), selected 9th overall, will be expected to start from Day 1 and be a high-impact player.  The Packers were strong on offense in 2008, but weak on the defensive side of the ball.  Raji’s power, quickness, agility and awareness should significantly improve the performance of this unit.

Evander “Ziggy” Hood (Missouri) was selected with the 32nd pick of the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Hood is not expected to make an immediate impact.  The Steelers anticipate that he will get playing time, but there is no rush for him to emerge as a star.  Hood has the luxury of serving an apprenticeship behind former University of Texas standout Casey Hampton.  Nose tackles not named Sam Adama tend to have short careers in the NFL.  It is difficult to avoid injury in the trenches and the sheer volume of talented lineman make it prohibitively difficult to stay relevant.  Hampton is still at or near the top of his game.  The Steelers like Hood’s energy and suspect that he’ll fit in nicely.

Here’s how they stacked up at the Combine.

Combine Measurables:

Height: Hood (6’3″)              Raji (6’2)

Weight: Hood (300)                Raji (337)

40 time:  Hood (4.97)              Raji (5.23)

Shuttle: Hood (4.55)                 Raji (4.69)

Cone: Hood (7.5)                    Raji (7.9)

Bench reps*: Hood (34)      Raji (33)

Vertical:  Hood (33)              Raji (32)

Broad Jump: Hood (108)        Raji (103)

Bench Press reps = 225 lbs.


  1. I lean toward Hood mainly because of the Steeler coaching staff. Raji has a ton of ability, but a couple of years playing with Hampton and learning from Tomlin and crew makes me give Hood the edge as far as careers go.

  2. Also, Raji will be expected to play right away. Always better to learn if you can, than to put someone out there first thing, unless they are exceptional.

    On another note, one more reason that I like Mike Tomlin, from USA Today:

    Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin approached White’s father, James, after his son’s March 12 pro day workout. None of the 25 teams requested a post-workout receiver audition after White was done flashing his passing skills.

    “Mike Tomlin came up to me and said, ‘They didn’t ask (New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl quarterback) Drew Brees to work out at receiver,’ ” James White said. “Pat’s a quarterback.”

  3. Nah, Sun. He’s still down for the long haul. I wrote a post about his weight last year (the beginning of the season). Tomlin disciplined him because of his weight. Cowher used to let it ride — probably because of the whole “veteran” player thing. Tomlin, though, was correct to check him on it for several reasons. Casey needs to be healthier for his own good — and the team needs him to be in top condition.

  4. Just to throw it out there, I believe that Ziggy was drafted by the Steelers to be a DE in their 3-4 defense, not as the NT. Also, is there any particular reason Peria Jerry wasn’t part of this post?

  5. Thanks for flagging the error with the name. I’ve fixed it.

    Colts18 — I agree. At 300 pounds, I’m sure the Steelers would be happy if Hood could give Aaron Smith a blow and eventually take over the position. His experience at DT will be useful down the line.

    As for Peria Jerry, he wasn’t intentional excluded. I wanted to look at 2 guys: the top overall DT and the pick made by the Steelers (my squad). The book on Jerry is positive. The Falcons have had mixed results at best in drafting along the front 7. I’m hopeful that the Mike Smith influence informs the quality of this pick and yields a better result. The Falcons need a D-lineman to dominate for once.

  6. It’s all good man, I wouldn’t know his name except I’m a Mizzou Tiger myself.

    I’ve watched Ziggy throughout his (and my) college career and I never really appreciated just how good he was. He has the ability to dominate games (kansas in 07, Alamo Bowl in 09) or he tends to be neutralized. I was so excited to see him become a first rounder, the Steelers just gained another fan as far as I’m concerned. Actually, the entire state of Pennsylvania moved up in the eyes of Missourians when the Eagles took Jeremy Maclin and you guys took Ziggy.

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