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April 27, 2012

Worthy to the Packers

The Denver Broncos went with Cincinnati's Derek Wolfe, not Jerel Worthy, at No. 36 -- setting the Internet ablaze with Jerel Worthy panic (not by him, for him). It didn't last too terribly long. Exactly 15 picks and just shy of one hour later, the Green Bay Packers took Worthy in the second round with the 51st pick. Green Bay traded up to get Philadelphia's pick to take Worthy. He is MSU's highest draftee since Devin Thomas went No. 34 overall to the Washington Redskins in 2008.

    He's also the first MSU defensive tackle drafted since Cliff Ryan went in the fifth round to the Rams in 2007. This is the highest an MSU defensive tackle has gone in the draft since Bobby Wilson went in the first round to the Redskins, No. 17 overall, all the way back in 1991.

    Here's the reaction from ESPN analysts after the pick, with Worthy highlights playing in the background.

    Mel Kiper Jr: "He had his moments at Michigan State, you look back at the productivity in some games. He did a good job. He’s a guy that faced a lot of double teams in his career. He was kind of a marked man on that Michigan State defensive line. A powerhouse. Bench presses 415 pounds. Squats 600. Ran under 5.0 at the combine. Pretty good athlete as well. Jon, his approach, solid. Workmanlike. What'd you see on film you liked and didn't like about Worthy?"

    Jon Gruden: "I was disappointed in Worthy this year. I wanted to like him. He played too high. Not very much stamina. And I just didn't see a lot of production and too many penalties. I've got to ask Bill Polian. He did this a long time. Nobody knows the 3 technique like Bill Polian. And I've got to find out what he thinks."

    Bill Polian: "Well, I'm high on this guy. I think he's got incredible power, as evidenced by the statistics on the weights. But more importantly, he turns that power into speed and explosion. This guy is a force. He's not consistent yet, and he's not mature yet. He probably should have stayed in school. But the bottom line is, this guy is a force. And he did it against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game, against some people that are gonna get drafted."

    Chris Berman: "There are some that say that, even the coaching staff there, boy he would have been really an unbelievable player had he played another year."

    Gruden: "We had Michigan State in the Outback Bowl. What really bothered me is they took him off the field in passing situations. They played a three-down package and Worthy's on the sideline. If I had taken Warren Sapp off the field in a passing situation, he would have killed me. So I want to see this kid play in the most critical passing situations in football. He needs to improve his stamina, some of the things Bill Polian just pointed out."

    Here's the MSU release on Worthy:

     EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State consensus All-American Jerel Worthy has been selected by the Green Bay Packers in the second round (No. 51 overall) of the 2012 National Football League Draft Friday, April 27. The 6-2, 308-pound junior defensive tackle anchored a Spartan defensive unit that led the Big Ten in rushing defense (100.5 yards per game), total defense (277.4 ypg.) and sacks (45) in 2011.
    Worthy becomes the highest-drafted defensive player from Michigan State since linebacker Julian Peterson was selected No. 16 overall by the San Francisco 49ers in 2000. The Spartans have had at least one player chosen every year since the inception of the common NFL Draft in 1967.
    Worthy earned First-Team All-America honors from The Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Walter Camp Football Foundation, CBSSports.com, Yahoo! Sports and NBCSports.com. He became the first Spartan defensive lineman to earn AP First-Team All-America honors since defensive end Charles “Bubba” Smith in 1966. In addition, Worthy was named one of 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi Award (college lineman of the year), one of 16 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year) and one of 20 quarterfinalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy (presented to Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year).
    A first-team All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and media, Worthy ranked fourth on the team in tackles for loss (10.5 for 42 yards), including 3.5 sacks (28 yards). He produced a tackle for loss in nine of MSU’s 14 games. Worthy recorded 30 tackles (19 solos, 11 assists) and was credited with 14 quarterback hits and 10 QB hurries.
    “The Green Bay Packers are getting a young man who wants to please people, so he’s going to be an extremely hard worker,” head coach Mark Dantonio said. “Jerel possesses all the tangible skills: explosiveness, first-step quickness and power. So he has the ability to make big plays in the offensive backfield. Jerel is a very intelligent player, who understands concepts and what offenses are trying to do against him. He also understands the difference between playing for a successful team, finishing out his career with back-to-back 11-win seasons, or an average team, like we had in 2009. Jerel definitely has the athletic ability to play this game at the highest level, so we look forward to watching him play in this league for quite a while.”
    Worthy closed out his collegiate career in style by matching his career high in tackles (5) and tackles for loss (2 for 2 yards) in MSU’s 33-30 triple-overtime win over No. 18 Georgia in the 2012 Outback Bowl.
    He tied a career high with two tackles for loss (3 yards) in the 55-3 win over Indiana. In its 37-21 win at Iowa, MSU limited Marcus Coker, the nation’s sixth-leading rusher, to just 57 yards on 21 carries – 65 yards below his season rushing average.
    Worthy made three tackles in MSU’s 37-31 victory over No. 4 Wisconsin, including one for a 2-yard loss. He had two stops in MSU’s 28-14 win over No. 11 Michigan, including a 4-yard half sack. Worthy also produced two tackles in MSU’s 10-7 victory at Ohio State, with 1.5 tackles for loss including a 5-yard sack.
    He registered four stops and recovered a fumble at Notre Dame. Worthy wore retired jersey No. 95 against the Irish as a tribute to former two-time All-American “Bubba” Smith, who passed away in early August. Smith’s final game as a Spartan came in the 1966 “Game of the Century” between the No. 1 Irish and No. 2 Spartans that ended in a 10-10 tie.
    The Huber Heights, Ohio, native started 38 of 40 career games and recorded 107 tackles, with 27.5 resulting in losses (118 yards) including 12 sacks (78 yards). Those marks rank among MSU’s all-time leaders: tied for 12th in sacks and 13th in tackles for loss. He also blocked three kicks.



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Joe Rexrode
MSU Sports Reporter

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