With the ninth pick in the first round, the Packers were able to draft the second-highest rated defensive player in the draft by most experts.
Raji was ranked the fifth-best player overall by Scouts, Inc., following the combine, and was the second highest-rated player left, behind Michael Crabtree, who plays the Packers' deepest position (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/130830-green-bay-packers-past-future-position-analysis-volume-iv-receivers/show_full).
While the Packers expressed an interest in Crabtree, that pick would have been a colossal mistake. At best, he would give the Packers a couple hundred more passing yards than the receiver they would have let go to make room for him (most likely Ruvell Martin), since he could not unseat Pro Bowl receivers Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. He would also have to split up catches with James Jones and last year's top pick, Jordy Nelson, out of spread formations.
But as we learned in 2008, being thin on the defensive line is catastrophic. The Packers dropped 25 percent in sacks, falling from the top half of the NFL to the bottom quarter.
This accounted for about a quarter of the extra yards the Packers gave up in going from the 11th-ranked defense to the 20th-ranked defense. (Almost as much as the additional yardage that came from Adrian Peterson.)
Thus, Ted Thompson did what he has maintained he believes most in—drafting the best player available—while still filling the Packers' greatest need, a defensive tackle. Without a talented, big tackle, the 3-4 defense crumbles, and Ryan Pickett was the only player of the appropriate size with any game experience on the roster.
Raji (6'3", 337 pounds) has the tools to jump in immediately as a solid back-up."He's a rare guy physically," Thompson said of Raji. "He's genuinely a powerful, powerful man, especially in his lower body. He has the ability to take people backwards where they don't want to go. He also has the quickness to go around them.
"It's unbelievably hard to find the combination of skill set that he brings. The good Lord just didn't make many people like this."
Indeed, the son of two Pentecostal ministers led a very good Boston College defense in sacks with eight in 12 games, the first time that has happened from the tackle position in 23 years. A three-year starter, in his senior season over one in three of his tackles was for loss, showing he penetrates as well as taking up space.