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.
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.