Pro Day buzz: Dorsey watches Raji

The Packers' John Dorsey watches the two best nose tackle prospects in the draft, B.J. Raji and Ron Brace, at Boston College's pro day. What did Dorsey see, and what does it mean for the Packers' hopes of landing Raji in the first round? We have the answer in this exclusive.

The Packers sent one of their big guns to Boston College's pro day on Thursday, with director of college scouting John Dorsey in attendance to watch stud defensive tackle B.J. Raji and other prospects, according to Scout.com draft analyst Chris Steuber.

Raji is the Packers' dream pick at No. 9 overall in April's draft, but after Thursday's workout, it appears less and less likely he'll be available at that selection.

At 6-foot-2 and 337 pounds and big-time production (16 tackles for loss, for instance), Raji appears to be a ready-made nose tackle in the Packers' new 3-4 defense. Plus, with eight sacks as a senior, he's not someone who necessarily has to come off the field on passing downs.

However, Raji has made a steady climb up draft boards, starting with the Senior Bowl (where he dominated a fine group of centers) and NFL Scouting Combine (where he showed his strength and quickness). He did nothing to change those opinions on Thursday. Results were not immediately available, but, according to a source who saw the workout, scouts were "drooling" at the prospect of lining up Raji in the middle of their defense. At this rate, Raji is possibly a top-five pick. Or, he could go at No. 6 to Cincinnati, which coached him at the Senior Bowl.

"The (game) film speaks for itself," Raji said, "so today is not going to change (the evaluation) drastically. But it's just another form of competition that I wanted to do my best at."

The Eagles have other prospects who could interest the Packers, leading with Raji's tag-team partner, defensive tackle Ron Brace. Brace, who also had a strong workout on Thursday, according to our spy, benefitted from all the attention Raji received to have a big senior season. At 6-foot-3 and 330 pounds and with brute strength, he's hard to move out of the middle. He's quick at the point of attack, but he lacks the athleticism to rush the passer or chase down plays behind the line of scrimmage. But, because he's so big and tough, he's a linebacker's best friend.

If Raji is off the board at No. 9, Brace has to be the focus with the Packers' second-round pick, No. 41 overall. With a thin group of big defensive tackles, though, it's not a given Brace will be available at that spot in the second round.

"You never can really tell. People can send a scout who won't talk to you or could just talk to you at the Senior Bowl and got all the information there or (at) the combine," Brace said. "They could be interested in 30, 60 other players."

Also working out on Thursday was tight end Ryan Purvis. He caught 24 passes as a senior but in 2007, when Matt Ryan was his quarterback, he hauled in 54 passes for 553 yards and four touchdowns.

Other late-round/undrafted prospects to remember are linebackers Kevin Akins and Robert Francois. Steuber said the 224-pound Akins, who had three sacks and an interception, could be converted to safety. The 243-pound Francois, who finished third on the team in tackles and added two sacks, an interception and nine tackles for loss, is a physical player and special-teams standout.

About two dozen small-school prospects attended the workout, too. Harvard quarterback Chris Pizzotti finished with a career mark of 20-2. As a senior, he completed 62.7 percent of his passes for 2,490 yards, with an outstanding 17 touchdowns against four interceptions.

"He has great size (6-foot-5) and a solid arm. He will receive late-round interest as a developmental QB," Steuber said.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Lambeau Level forum. Bill also is giving Twitter a try. Find him at twitter.com/packerreport


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