The Green Bay Packers continued adding to the defensive front by taking Auburn’s Colby Wooden with the 116th overall pick in the 2023 draft.
Wooden produced 30.0 tackles for loss and 15.0 sacks while starting every game for Auburn over the last three seasons.
Want to learn more about Wooden, who has a chance to give the Packers an athletic interior rusher in the Kingsley Keke mold? Here’s what several prominent draft analysts said about Wooden during the pre-draft process:
Dane Brugler, The Athletic (draft guide): “A three-year starter at Auburn, Wooden was the starting defensive end in former defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding’s four-man front, although most of his snaps came inside the offensive tackle as 4i or 3-technique. His production improved each of the last three seasons and he is one of only nine Tigers to reach 30 career tackles for loss over the last 25 years. Wooden is very active off the ball with the lower-body agility and limb quickness to play in gaps. However, his block
destruction is undeveloped and he must do a better job staying on schedule to make a living battling NFL blockers. Wooden isn’t consistently disruptive when rushing from the outside, but he can set the edge or reduce down where his rush skills are more effective on the interior. He offers position flexibility as a rotational base end or 3-technique as an NFL rookie capable of ascending to starter.”
Lance Zierlein, NFL.com: “Defensive line prospect whose steady weight gain and frame development have allowed him to see the game at a variety of alignments. Wooden is at his most disruptive when attacking from the interior. He has a quick first step to attack gaps and threaten the pocket, but he’s unable to sit down and drop a deep anchor against bullies in the run game. Wooden’s activity level and hand skill are the keys to his current and future success — they allow him to keep pressure on blockers from snap to whistle. High football character and scheme versatility work in Wooden’s favor, but he will need to find the right team fit.”
Pro Football Focus (draft guide): “Wooden is a bit of a tweener, as he played on the interior for Auburn yet clocked in at the combine at only 278 pounds. He was still productive on tape and earned a career-high 80.2 grade in 2021.”
Bleacher Report Scouting Department: “Colby Wooden has an interesting draft profile. He has a good combination of strength and athleticism that will show up on tape as a run defender but doesn’t seem to translate to his pass rush. When his hands are right, he’s strong at the point of attack and can get extension against offensive linemen to help disengage from blocks and make tackles near the line of scrimmage. He’s even better when slanting, where he can use his quickness and agility to make blockers miss. However, Wooden’s pass-rush skills leave something to be desired. While he’s shown flashes of winning with a hand swipe or push-pull, neither of those moves is consistent enough for him to hang his hat on at the next level. Teams are either going to have to be patient and work with him in that regard or get him moving on line games to be able to impact the quarterback in the passing game. Schematically, the Auburn product is a bit of a tweener where he’s a little light to play as a 4i-technique in odd fronts and isn’t a good enough pass-rusher to line up outside the tackle in even fronts. His best option is likely to play in the former scheme and bulk up. Overall, Wooden is a solid, middle-round defensive lineman whose versatility could be intriguing to some teams. He could be a good player as the fourth or fifth guy on the depth chart who mixes into the rotation.”
The Draft Network: “Overall, Wooden has the making of a highly-productive and impactful defensive lineman. His blend of size and strength at the point of attack allows him to play on run downs. The developmental upside as a pass rusher and pocket-collapser is tantalizing. Being asked to play at a consistent rate with technique, leveraging, etc will help as well. Wooden has the chance to be a three-down defensive lineman that teams will love to have.”
33rd Team: “Colby Wooden played all over the defensive front for Auburn, but he most likely projects as a strong-side defensive end in the NFL. While he lacks initial quickness, he is a good athlete who can work the edge of a blocker and be disruptive vs. the run and pass. Wooden could work his way into a valuable rotational role in the NFL.”