Combine Preview: Nose Tackles

It's a good thing the Packers have Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji, because there's not much help in Indy. Of the 24 defensive tackles at the Scouting Combine, only five are able to play the nose. The Packers might need one if they lose Johnny Jolly.

The NFL's ultimate job interview, the Scouting Combine, began on Wednesday in Indianapolis, with the first on-the-field workouts starting on Friday.

Packer Report gets you ready for the Combine with a position-by-position look at the 329 players on the invitation list.

Defensive tackle

State of the Packers

With Ryan Pickett locked up for 2010 (at least) and B.J. Raji waiting in the wings, the Packers are set at nose tackle. Good thing. Of the 24 defensive tackles at the Combine, only five are suited to play nose tackle in a 3-4. Several of these players, however, will be in the mix at defensive end. (Combine listings are done based on 4-3 schemes.) Then again, if Jolly is lost because of his legal troubles, Raji will swing to end and the Packers will need depth.

Combine guest list

Charles Alexander, LSU

Geno Atkins, Georgia

Terrence Cody, Alabama

LaMarr Houston, Texas

Art Jones, Syracuse

Linval Joseph, East Carolina

Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma

Earl Mitchell, Arizona

Aleric Mullins, North Carolina

Mike Neal, Purdue

Jared Odrick, Penn State

Vince Oghobaase, Duke

Jeff Owens, Georgia

Corey Peters, Kentucky

Brian Price, UCLA

Jay Ross, East Carolina

Malcolm Sheppard, Arkansas

D'Anthony Smith, Louisiana Tech

Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska

Cam Thomas, North Carolina

Torell Troup, Central Florida

Dan Williams, Tennessee

Al Woods, LSU

Doug Worthington, Ohio State

Who to watch: 3-4 nose tackle

Terrence Cody, Alabama: Cody is a polarizing player. Scouts seated in front of this reporter at the Senior Bowl snickered when he took off his shirt, strode to the scale and weighed 370 pounds. It will be interesting to see if he's shed some of that girth for the Combine. With all of that said, what's the No. 1 job of a 3-4 nose tackle? Occupy blockers and keep the inside linebackers free to make tackles. Cody definitely can do that. He figures to be a first-round pick, unless he's just outrageously out of shape.

Linval Joseph, East Carolina: Joseph (6-6, 322) is an intriguing late-round prospect for a team looking for a nose tackle or end. His height and agility scream end but his strength — he's a former Florida weightlifting champion — makes him as sturdy as a mountain in the middle. Nose was his position at ECU. Needs to work on staying low with his height, though.

Cam Thomas, North Carolina: Thomas (6-4, 331) is a mid-round prospect who excelled at the Senior Bowl to possibly move into the second round. Just like what you want in a nose tackle, he's a bear for even two blockers to shove out of the way. Not much of a playmaker but he holds his ground.

Dan Williams, Tennessee: The 6-foot-3, 329-pound Williams will be coveted as a nose tackle or 4-3 tackle. A definite playmaker, not just a double-team eater, with his 61 tackles leading all SEC defensive linemen. He's athletic with a nose for the ball. Forget about blocking him one-on-one on a running play. Doesn't offer much as a pass rusher other than a brute-power bull rush, but that's not a prerequisite.

Torell Troup, Central Florida: Troup (6-3, 310) attracted a barrel full of double teams after tearing apart opponents as a junior. He's got the build of a nose tackle, with his low center of gravity making him a bear to move, even with two blockers. A third-round prospect.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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