Wilson Adds More Depth To Defensive Line

General Manager Ted Thompson held true to his philosophy of taking the best player on the team’s draft board with the selection of another defensive end, C.J. Wilson of East Carolina, with the team’s final pick in the seventh round on Saturday. - More Packers.com Draft Page

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General Manager Ted Thompson held true to his philosophy of taking the best player on the team's draft board with the selection of another defensive end, C.J. Wilson of East Carolina, with the team's final pick in the seventh round on Saturday.

In Wilson, the 230th overall selection, the Packers get a highly productive college player who the team and Wilson himself thought would go higher in this weekend's draft.

"I have no idea (why he slid)," Thompson said. "I talked to him briefly before we turned the card in, and he's pretty fired up to show people everybody made a mistake. We liked him a lot.

"Brian Gutekunst scouts in that area. His dad worked at East Carolina this year toward the end of the season, and we felt like we knew him very well. He's a very impressive player. We had him higher on our board than where he wound up going."

Wilson played in a 4-3 scheme for the Pirates, but has the size (6-foot-3, 290 pounds) to play end in defensive coordinator Dom Capers' 3-4 system, and can also move inside to rush the passer in sub packages.

"He's got good, quick hands," Thompson said. "He's got the ability to stick his hands in the chest and back them off the ball. He can rush from the inside. They move him around a lot. He's a very fired-up human being right this second."

Wilson finished his career with 27 sacks, 45" tackles for loss, and 35 quarterback pressures. As a senior, he earned first-team All-Conference USA honors for the second straight season as he posted a team-high 5" sacks, 57 tackles (23 solo), 14 quarterback pressures, and 10" tackles for loss.

Wilson's junior season was the most productive of his college career as he earned Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year honors from ESPN and league MVP honors from Sporting News. Wilson ranked second in the conference with a career-high 10" sacks as well as a career-best 18" tackles for loss.

Wilson pointed to the increased attention he received from opponents as a senior after his standout junior campaign, and also playing at a higher weight than he had the previous season, for the drop in production. He said he is comfortable now at 290 pounds after also playing at 265-270 earlier in his college career.

"I got a lot more attention and a lot more people keying on me," Wilson said. "I had a lot of people slide-protecting on me, max-protecting, and keeping the back in to chip on me and the tight end chipping."

Wilson led East Carolina in sacks every season, and also showed his durability by never missing a game as he played in all 52 contests during his career with 44 starts.

"I've been playing football since I was 9 years old and I've never had a broken bone or an injury, so it's been a blessing to be able to do that," Wilson said.

Wilson will be joining a deep defensive-line group, headed by starting ends Johnny Jolly and Cullen Jenkins, starting nose tackle Ryan Pickett, and second-year man B.J. Raji, who can play the nose and end spots. Those four are joined by second-year defensive end Jarius Wynn, fourth-year defensive end Justin Harrell, and Mike Neal, another end that the Packers selected in the second round on Friday night.

Last year the Packers kept six lineman on the final roster with five typically active on gamedays, so the team will likely have some tough decisions to make at the final cutdown. As far as Thompson is concerned, that will be a nice problem to have.

"I'm a big fan of defensive linemen," Thompson said. "As you know, before when we ran a 4-3, I think we'd keep sometimes 12 on our 53-man. You start running out of those guys, you run out of them pretty fast and there's no well to go get any more water.

"We felt like really and truly, those were really value picks for us, and I was very comfortable taking them."

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