We have spent time this offseason discussing the idea that in order to beef up a run defense that ranked last in the league in yards per rushing attempt allowed (4.9) that the defensive tackle position is a priority.
We have talked about the idea of drafting massive Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton. We have talked about free agents like Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions [full story] and Dan Williams of the Arizona Cardinals [full story].
Let's toss another name into the hopper today -- Green Bay Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji.
Raji, a 2009, first-round pick by the Packers, has spent his career playing in Green Bay's 3-4, as both the nose tackle and as a defensive end. At 6-foot-3, 334 pounds, could Raji, a 2011 Pro Bowler, play defensive tackle in a 4-3? Evan 'Tex' Western' of SB Nation's Packers web site, Acme Packing Company, thinks it is possible:
"Raji is puzzling to me. He was really good playing nose and a little bit of end in the Super Bowl year in 2010, but was pretty poor when playing 3-tech and some 5-tech end the last couple years," Western said. "I think he probably needs to get into a defense where he's allowed to just deal with one gap and penetrate, and I could see a 4-3 DT position (maybe the 1-tech in a 4-3 Under setup) working for that."
Raji was injured in 2014, spending the season on IR after suffering a torn bicep during a preseason game. Western is right, though, it has actually been a while since the 28-year-old Raji has played well.
In 2013, Raji had a -24.9 Pro Football Focus grade, -20.9 vs. the run. In 2012, -2.3 overall and -4.2 vs. the run. In 2011, his Pro Bowl year at nose tackle, -28.0 overall and -26.8 vs. the run. In 2011, at nose tackle-, +5.7 overall but -11.0 vs. the run.
Yet, Raji is athletic for his size, will likely be cheap and could be an upgrade over Mike Patterson or Markus Kuhn.
"I doubt he'll command much money in free agency this year, since he only got a one-year $4M deal last year when he was still healthy," said Western. "For what it's worth, I think it's a 50/50 shot he's back in Green Bay. I just don't have a feel for whether the team is gung-ho about bringing him back, but it seems like both sides still like each other."
Hey, if Raji was a Giant maybe we'd get to see something like this:
Is Raji a player the Giants should consider in an effort to bolster their defensive tackle rotation? Your thoughts, Giants fans?