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Why Packers passed on Crabtree for Raji

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08:05 AM ET 04.26 | General manager Ted Thompson has made some hard decisions in his four seasons atop the Green Bay Packers' football hierarchy (read Brett Favre), but never two in one afternoon as he did Saturday in the National Football League draft. First, he passed up wide receiver Michael Crabtree, possibly the most dynamic player in the draft and someone whom a friend of Thompson's said the Packers "had a love affair with," in order to draft a nose tackle, B.J. Raji, of Boston College. Crabtree, said Thompson, is "a remarkably gifted player" who reminded him "a little bit" of Sterling Sharpe by his dominating presence in the short-to-intermediate zones. When the Packers' 10-minute slot arrived, there were three names that they were seriously considering: Raji, Crabtree and Mississippi tackle Michael Oher. The Packers were extremely high on Oher as the No. 3 tackle, probably ahead of Virginia's Eugene Monroe, and viewed him as an immediate starter at right tackle. Then there was Raji, by far the best defensive tackle in the draft. In a moment of candor, Thompson conceded that it was a scenario he hadn't anticipated. Thompson said Raji and Crabtree had the same grade on the Packers' board. That's probably a matter of semantics, but people with knowledge of the Packers' thinking said Crabtree stood far and away as their pre-eminent player. Then Thompson turned around 90 minutes later and traded away the guts of his remaining draft for outside linebacker Clay Matthews of Southern California. To get Matthews, Thompson traded up for just the second time in his five drafts with the Packers, compared to 13 trade-downs. For New England's first-round pick (No. 26) that was used on Matthews as well as a fifth-round choice (No. 162), the Packers gave up their second-round selection (No. 41) and both of their third-round choices (Nos. 73 and 83). "No, I'm not concerned about the splash," Thompson said, because if he were the Packers would have taken Crabtree. "There were some guys that we were eyeballing, Raji and Clay as an example. We didn't know how to go about doing it."

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Ted Thompson, AP Ted Thompson, AP

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