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Is Worthy Worthy of Packers' First-Round Pick?

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Is Worthy Worthy of Packers' First-Round Pick?

Here's our feature on Jerel Worthy originally published Mar. 29...

Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy put together an undeniably impressive 2011 season.

His 31 tackles, 10.5 for a loss and 3.5 sacks earned him consensus first-team All-American honors from several outlets and made him a likely first-round NFL Draft choice come April.

But it's Worthy's inconsistency, the times he appears to take plays off, that have pro football evaluators and analysts wondering about his future.

The question was posed to Worthy at the NFL Combine back in February, is the knock on his lack of consistency fair?

"To an extent, but at the same time it's just something that you have to work through," said Worthy. "It's something I've grown and gotten better at, from the beginning of my season last year to the end of my season. I showed up in a lot of marquee games and laid my imprint on the game, and it was something that I wanted to work at. Getting better at playing against high level competition––Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio State––with great offensive lines, I wanted to be dominant the whole game. That will only come with hard work in practice, and off the field growing in maturity and getting better."

At least Worthy didn't avoid the question. He acknowledged the criticism and did his best to spin it into a positive, which came off as sincere.

And there's no doubt Worthy is capable of dominating. He did so many times throughout his college career, not only his junior season in 2011 but even during his freshman and sophomore seasons in 2009 and 2010 as well.

It's part of the reason Michigan State has been able to beat in-state rival and traditional powerhouse Michigan each year of Worthy's career. Those victories led Worthy to getting a tattoo on his left arm of a Spartan posed victoriously over a Michigan football player.

But the past is over for Worthy, and now he has to prove he belongs in the NFL, perhaps even as a member of the Green Bay Packers who own the 28th pick in the first round, near where Worthy could come off the board.

The reasons for selecting Worthy are obvious. He has an innate ability to penetrate into opposing backfields. That's something the Packers have missed from their defensive line since Cullen Jenkins departed for the Philadelphia Eagles via free agency a year ago.

Worthy was so good at slicing past offensive linemen in college, it was sometimes to his team's dentriment by incurring offsides penalties, however.

"It's something I'm trying to get better at, using my attributes in a positive way," said Worthy. "I know in the NFL you can't do that. Jumping offsides will only get you put on the bench. But at the same time, I'm not going to stop doing what I do as far as getting off the ball fast.

"I'm just going to learn how to enhance it, learn how to get better, staying onsides and learning that when that ball moves, that's when I have to move. It just comes with preparation, comes with practice and getting a rhythm. In the NFL, you don’t get a rhythm for snap counts. You've got great guys, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning coming back. You've got a lot of guys that change up the snap count very well."

Anyone that's seen Aaron Rodgers pull defenders offsides with his cadence knows the challenge Worthy will face. Perhaps facing a guy like Rodgers in practice every day would help in this regard.

It's a deep defensive line group in this year's draft, and Worthy could be one of several players from the position the Packers would consider drafting.

"I've got first round grades on anywhere from five to seven defensive tackles," said Draft analyst Mike Mayock of the NFL Network in a conference call with the media.

Among the other first-round options for defensive linemen are Memphis' Dontari Poe, LSU's Michael Brockers, Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox, Penn State's Devon Still and Connecticut's Kendall Reyes. Choosing the best fit out that group might come down to off-the-field concerns.

As far as being a good egg, a high-character person, Worthy is trying his best. As evidenced by the term "Packer people" in Mike McCarthy's mission statement the Packers released upon his hiring, being a person of integrity of important.

Worthy said part of the reason he's entering the Draft is to help his family, including his father who had a stroke before the 2011 season began.

One of the things Worthy wanted teams to see at the Combine was his work ethic and character.

"I'm a great individual off the field, a good character guy," said Worthy. "I interact with a lot of people very well, I'm a hard worker and the consistency knock is something that can easily be erased. By going out here, when we run and go through drills, I just want to prove that I'm ready for the pro level. I came out a year early, but at the same time I've grown in maturity and I've grown over these last couple of months and I'm ready to showcase my talents."

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (35) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

New cow smell's picture

I've watched him a lot.
Keep him as far away from the packers as possible.

Lazy, loud-mouthed, whiny, punk.

New cow smell's picture

Oh-and he's a "look at me" guy. He's not going to want to hold up blockers to allow teammates to make plays-which is what the packers would need him to do as a RDE.

PackersRS's picture

Going back to my discussion with phillip, Worthy IMHO is a case of a strict 1 gap DT only. I believe if you ask him to hold the point and play the run he's gonna struggle.

And it always strikes me as odd when someone says in public he/she is a good person.

New cow smell's picture


Brian Carriveau's picture

For what it's worth, I was just reading my Pro Football Weekly 2012 Draft Preview and Nolan Nawrocki thinks he has the ability to two-gap. That's just one person's opinion, though. Just throwing it out there. I like Nolan's analysis.

PackersRS's picture

He probably watched more of Worthy than I did, and he has a job doing that. But from what I've seen of Worthy, he just shoots gaps every single time, regardless of the situation.

He can look like a beast if he times it right, he has a really quick first step, but I've seen many times where he was easily taken out of the play because he ended up with his back against the lineman.

He doesn't look to have the balance to play 2 gaps, if he's not going forward, he's going backwards.

tony's picture

I agree here. I've watched every one of Worthy's snaps in his entire MSU career. I love the guy. He's an absolute beast.

But the balance thing is accurate. I've seen him get blown back on more than one occasion, then come back with a dominant play.

It's a matter of motivation with him. Maybe now he's re-motivated to dominate the NFL like he did last year in college. Or, maybe he'll be a total bust. I trust Ted and the rest of the scouts when it comes to him.

Brian Carriveau's picture

I knew Tony would chime in when it came to one of his Spartants.

Fan since 57's picture

Do you think our recent FA signings of Defensive lineman,( Muir, Hargrove possibly Tollefson) means we are more likely to address OLB than the line.

tony's picture

In my opinion, it means he can use his "best player available" method. I wonder if RGIII will slip...

PackersRS's picture

I don't think adressing immediate needs was in TT's plan to begin with. Nor do I think any of these FA signings will alter TT's approach.

Center is still a future need, OLB is still a future need, DL is still a future need. He will address those in this year's draft, just not necessarily with the pick the fans want it to be...

Rocky70's picture

TT will be shooting for upgrades at both OLB & DL in the draft 2012. TT will need to use rounds 1, 2 & 3 to increase the odds of an upgrade at both positions.

Factors & conditions have changed for TT & GB entering season 2012. To pigeonhole TT into specific behavior in the upcoming draft is folly. TT has noticed the window slide a bit in the last year & will adjust accordingly.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

" OLB is still a future need, DL is still a future need."

Future needs? The future is indeed now then.

PackersRS's picture

My point is that those being a current need is somewhat irrelevant, he'll still aim for the 2012 draft class to perform not this year, but 2, 3 years from now. If they're able to perform this year and fill the current needs, the better, but they're not gonna pick a more ready player over a more raw one just because they need production now.

As for Rocky, we've had this discussion and I know I won't change your point of view (or the opposite), I just want to say that this year doesn't represent a change in any way of what has been the Packers MO for a long time.

I don't see the change, Andrew Brandt, the former Packers' VP, doesn't see the change, and TT has said publicly he hasn't done anything this year that he didn't do year's past, in terms of team building approach.

They, like every year, waited 5 days to engage in FA, and only signed players that were considered bargains by them.

Yes, they signed players that in years' past they didn't, but those signs still fit the criteria they've always adopted, and I don't see reason for them to change their approach regarding the draft, which is to pick the BPA that fits into future needs.

Rocky70's picture

You (and a few others) gush over TT's draft & develope approach but yet deny it when he throws out a few curve balls. (Some still refuse to believe he traded up into the 1st to get CM3)

The bottom-line truth from the novice football fan to the expert is simple. GB needs an infusion of talent on the "D" in season 2012. Drafting "D" players in Rounds 1-3 will better serve this goal than drafting "D" in Rounds 5-7. Therefore, you may very well see a reach or two. But, you'll never know.

Brandt is no longer in the loop. You have never been in the loop. (nothing personal). TT only utters words to get rid of those who keep asking him 'stupid questions'.

PackersRS's picture

You're completely discarding what the former VP, responsible for structuring the cap, said it's a norm of the franchise, because he's no longer with the team? You actually believe that they've changed that approach now, because...? Because of your expertise? You don't think he has inside knowledge of the Packers? They suddenly broken up all ties with him, and completely changed the structure they've built together?

Please, elucidate to us novices how the franchise works. Actually, I don't know how this franchise can operate without you in the reins.

Rocky70's picture

Mark Murphy was hired (from the outside) as President & Chief Executive Officer of the Green Bay Packers. Guess who wasn't & resigned shortly after. I just doubt Murphy & Brandt chat much anymore if at all.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

No. Thanks for asking.


FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

And a month later, I feel the same. But he's Damn sure 'Worthy' of a second. Get it... 'Worthy'! I like the value there. No, actually, I love it.


djbonney138's picture


jrunde10's picture

Michigan State had one of the country's best pass rushes and Worthy was a big reason. His sacks numbers could have been better, but were fine for a DT. He definitely got pressure and commanded attention. He freed up the line a lot for his teammates-- I believe MSU was top ten in the nation in team sacks.

I agree with RS to an extent on Worthy shooting into the backfield. He's got a quick-first step (yeah, sometimes too quick), and flat-out got through offensive linemen at times. Better offensive linemen and a patient QB can take advantage of this tendency, but he should be able to be coached up. I don't think Worthy's explosiveness will fall off at the pro level as much as some college stars (cough* AJ HAWK *cough). I just see him being capable of explosive plays in the NFL, but hopefully not as a talented fat guy who only gets limited snaps.

jrunde10's picture

He looks pretty fat in his jersey and has a chubby looking face. For that reason alone, I want to see him on the field with Raji.

tony's picture

Haha. I love this logic. As if the field would sink in should they line up together.

jrunde10's picture

gives new meaning to the phrase, "tilting the field".

ted, of bill and ted's picture

that rant up there is a ripping good read

Wo's picture

I want this guy! He is a beast! He isn't a choir boy. U kinda need that from linemen! They said the same thing about Charles Woodson n look @ him!

Jason's picture

seems the addition of defense depth along the line coupled with 12 draft choices implies two things:

1 - we are more likely to draft something other than DL early

2 - with a couple of fringe FA signings we are unlikely to be able to keep 12 draft choices on the roster, hence, I suspect we are positioning to move up in the draft to shed a few bodies, for a couple of premium players

My main argument for not moving up, what are the odds of hitting a jackpot player set higher at, moving to the 20th or 21st pick, or selecting 28th, and keeping your 2nd and 4th round picks (the reported price to move up that amount)? Would seem to me if you gave Teddy three shots at finding a ROLB (1st,2nd and 4th), he will do better than if you make him only try once, even if the one pick is 8 spots higher in the first?????

PackersRS's picture

Hope I'm full of crap.

packsmack25's picture

We've always known you are, RS. ;)

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture


philip's picture

I like the pick, but then again, RS, you knew I would.

Rocky70's picture

"I just want to say that this year doesn’t represent a change in ANY WAY of what has been the Packers MO for a long time." --RS

TT signs a few free agents & trades up twice in the first 2 rounds of the draft giving up basically a 4th & a 5th.

Geez, RS, want to revise your POV or at least 'spin it' a little more. LOL

PackersRS's picture

You sure got me now. You win the argument, and have proven once and for all your superiority in every way!

Lucky953's picture

The addition of Worthy is going to immediately push Wynn, Wilson,Neal, et al to ramp it up. The competitive level just went up and that alone will make the D better. Plus whatever he can give as a first year on the field

Rocky70's picture

The addition of Worthy, Hargrove & maybe Muir may very well push Wynn & Wilson all right ------ right out the door. Would like to see GB pluck another DL in the 4th. Both Wynn & Wilson may need to update their resumes.

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