28. B.J. Raji (Ray’s pick)
If there’s one of Ted Thompson’s draft picks over the past decade who has had the highest of highs and lowest of lows in his six-year career in Green Bay, it’s been B.J. Raji, the Packers first round pick in 2009.
As mysterious as his first name (yeah, I bet you didn’t know it is Busari), Raji’s play on the football field has gone from great to bad and then back to average.
Even more mysterious was Raji’s decision to announce that he would be taking a one-year “hiatus” from football, making one wonder whether the big guy will every play football again – and more specifically, whether he will play football for the Green Bay Packers again.
In 2009 he had an average rookie year, playing all 16 games that season.
He did the same in 2010, but in this breakthrough year when he lifted the Packers to the Super Bowl with his championship game pick-six of the Bears’ Caleb Haney, Raji became as much of a household name as Aaron Rodgers.
But that was his peak. That Super Bowl season he not only had three passes defensed, but he also broke out with 6.5 sacks, 29 tackles and 10 assists.
“The Freezer” then dropped in 2011 to finish with thee sacks, 14 tackles and 10 assists.
But that’s when the bottom dropped out for Raji.
In 2012 he had 16 tackles and 10 assists that got even worse in 2013 when he had 13 tackles and six assists when he was moved from nose tackle to defensive end.
When the Packers decided to move Raji back inside in 2014, he was having the best training camp of his career when he tore his triceps and was lost for the year.
The buzz around Raji early in his career was lost the last couple of seasons, but the Packers and Ted Thompson appear to be giving Raji one more chance to make a difference in 2015.
The Packers signed him to a single season contract prior to the 2015 season as he tried one more time to prove himself.
Raji didn’t have a spectacular season in 2015, but he held his own and it sounded like the Packers were prepared to bring him back prior to his decision to take his hiatus.
Just what happens to Raji over the next year will be interesting. If he drops off the map, he will be left on the heap of players who coulda, shoulda, woulda …
For one, I certainly hope he attempts a comeback in 2017, whether it’s with the Packers or not.
Who cannot like this guy and root for him to succeed.
Next: No. 28 (Freddie's pick)