Kenn Korb: DT Andrew Billings, Baylor
In my mind, the Packers have two main areas of concern they should be focused on early in this draft: an immediate stater at inside linebacker to pair with either Sam Barrington or Jake Ryan, and a new talented defensive linemen to eat up space as well as provide pressure in the middle. Reggie Ragland has been the most popular name to handle the former, but the defensive line may be the stronger need now; Raji’s gone, Pennel is suspended for four games, and the line outside of Mike Daniels has only been inconsistent at best anyway.
With that in mind, there look to be plenty of intriguing defensive lineman possibilities at this point in the draft; of them, Billings sounds to me like the kind of player who could be the best of the bunch in a role that’s harder to fill. He looks to be a pure nose tackle with the power necessary to make a mess of things for opposing offenses in the middle, both in the run game as well as on passing downs.
The supposed weaknesses he brings with him (short, pretty young, needs improvement on initial burst) are all things that this team and the defensive coaching staff should be well equipped to mitigate (Mike Daniels is undersized but has become one of the best DL in the league, the team is perennially young & bank on youth performing well, Capers can find ways to bring out his best).
Picking him would finally gives Daniels a high-level DL partner; the effects of that will emanate across the rest of the defense; it isn’t hard to see his addition all at once improving the run defense, improving the consistency of the pass rush (w/o the need of blitzing), lessening the responsibilities of the ILBs, and reducing pressure on a talented (but still quite young) secondary.
Next: Thomas Friesen