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April 30, 2012

Draft review: Jerel Worthy

Now that it's over, what does it mean?

    I figured it would be a good idea to go through each of MSU's six draftees and review the reaction to each pick, nationally and in each NFL city.

    Here's the Green Bay Press-Gazette's profile of Worthy and story on the pick (with the revelation that it was very close between Worthy and Penn State's Devon Still).

    The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel got some anonymous thoughts from scouts on Worthy, and many of them came up short of glowing.

    "Yeah, he's up and down," one AFC scout said. "He's a pain in the (expletive) kind of guy is what he is. This guy has all kinds of ability. I don't know why he doesn't play good all the time. You tell me? He can do anything he wants when he wants to do it. He didn't do it a lot against Wisconsin. He had a little spurt in one of the two games in the third quarter. Not that he's a bad guy, but I don't know if I trust him. When you're talking about a first-rounder you want total trust. That bothers me. I could compare him to Phil Taylor of the Browns. I think Taylor is a better player. More consistent."

    Bob McGinn of the Journal-Sentinel also reported, citing anonymous sources, that Worthy failed one drug test while at MSU, but that none of the 12 scouts he interviewed cited character as a question on Worthy.

    Others, giving permission to use their names, had nicer things to say.

    "I heard Gruden up there, I used to work with Gruden, so I know a little about him," (Packers defensive line coach Mike) Trgovac said. "(Worthy) is a big guy, he's quick for a big guy, he's got good movement, he's got really good agility, excellent instincts. He's one of the better players I've seen the last couple years finding the ball very fast, I thought he did a great job with that. I think he'll add some juice to our front."
    "Juice," as in the same word Thompson used to describe (Nick) Perry's pass rush and it's evident in Worthy's game.
    In Michigan State's 33-30 Outback Bowl win over Georgia, Worthy took over. On one third and 3, he read a shovel pass, wasted center Ben Jones - a top-five center in this draft - and stonewalled the running back. He's quick off the snap and can swallow backs. At the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, multiple offensive linemen, including Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler, praised Worthy as the top player they faced all season.

    As this Sporting News analysis indicates, Worthy is going to play defensive end in the 3-4 and probably move inside on nickel packages. Worthy often expressed a desire to stay on the field on nickel downs at MSU but didn't do it often. Looking at his strengths and weaknesses, 3-4 end seems to be a good fit for Worthy. One of those scouts said they saw him as a 3-4 nose, but I don't think he's quite physically overpowering enough to do that on a consistent basis. His nimble feet set him apart.

    And in case you forgot what Worthy can do -- and what MSU will miss next season -- here's a highlight package that most guys at his position would love to have. I don't know if Worthy is going to be a star in the NFL, but I'd take him on my team. Worthy and Nick Perry (who almost played with Worthy at MSU, by the way) are going to help that Green Bay defense. Sorry, Lions fans.

    Also, check out Adam Rittenberg's Big Ten draft recap. Interesting that MSU tied with Wisconsin and Iowa -- Dantonio's stated program models when he arrived in 2007 -- to lead the Big Ten with six draftees. None of the three ever figure to win a signing day title, but they somehow manage to churn out wins, championships and pros.

    Next: Kirk Cousins.



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Joe Rexrode
MSU Sports Reporter

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