There is not much debate that defensive line and in particular, nose tackle is an area of need for the Green Bay Packers entering the 2016 NFL Draft.
With the sudden retirement of B.J. Raji, and the four-game suspension for the promising Mike Pennel, finding a nose tackle early in the draft wouldn’t be such a bad thing. That is sometimes easier said than done, but looking at this year’s defensive line group, should leave the Packers optimistic that they can find one early in the draft.
One player that makes a lot of sense for Green Bay and is more likely to be on the board when the Packers select at No. 27 is Alabama defensive lineman Jarran Reed.
Reed is a 6-2, 308-pound prospect that spent the last few seasons playing defensive line for Nick Saban and most of the time that is a pretty good tutelage.
There are some question marks about Reed, especially his ability to rush the passer. In his last two seasons, he posted just two sacks, which isn’t the kind of production normally expected from first-round defensive lineman.
Yet, I don’t necessarily view that as a disclaimer. I mean look at what Raji’s role was last season. He was a run stopper and he did very well at it. That’s also what Ryan Pickett did when he was Green Bay’s starting nose tackle and he also did a commendable job. But, the thing about both of those players is they each played around just 30-40 percent of the snaps.
They weren’t every-down players for the Packers and the truth is that Reed won’t have to be either.
The Packers, at least under Dom Capers, are a team that relies heavily on sub packages. And while Reed or another bigger defensive tackle will certainly need to play in some of those packages, his biggest responsibility will be holding up against the run on early downs, which a scout recently said in a USA Today article: “Reed can play the run right now at a Pro Bowl level. Today. Now.”
That’s exactly what they Packers need. At least for this season. And Reed could be that guy. He’s a dominant force inside and in his defense, he wasn’t given many pass-rushing opportunities in Alabama.
Green Bay has some solid interior rushers, in fact, Mike Daniels is one of the best in the business. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Packers add another defensive lineman later than can push the pocket a bit.
The point is though, that the Packers definitely need a long-term answer at nose tackle and if some other targets at inside linebacker or outside linebacker are gone, then Reed could represent the perfect marriage between need and value for Green Bay at the end of the first round.