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Defense rests with linebacker picks

Posted Apr 27, 2013

Illinois State defensive end has playmaker ability


GREEN BAY—Nate Palmer said he was just watching the draft “as a fan,” so he was left “speechless” when the Packers called to select him in the sixth round on Saturday, at No. 193 overall.

Meanwhile, Sam Barrington was dealing with the long wait as best he could, trying to stay optimistic and ultimately being grateful the Packers called to take him in the seventh round at No. 232.

Palmer and Barrington, two linebackers, were the last additions to the defense the Packers made in the 2013 draft. Palmer has been pegged as an outside linebacker in Green Bay’s 3-4 scheme, while Barrington’s college experience would dictate most likely an inside assignment.

A defensive end from Illinois State, the 6-2, 248-pound Palmer (pictured on right) has a transition ahead of him, but he did stand up as a pass rusher at times in college, which should help.

“I still have a lot to learn,” he said. “I haven’t played it as my primary position. I know it’s going to be a learning curve and I’m ready to get to work.”

Palmer spent a redshirt year plus two seasons at Illinois before transferring to Illinois State due to a lack of playing time. A second-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference choice the last two years, he racked up 17 sacks among 25½ tackles for loss in starting 24 games for Illinois State.

“He’s got good length,” Packers GM Ted Thompson said. “He’ll look the part. Good athlete.”

Another product of a 4-3 defense, Barrington (pictured on left) said he’s willing to play any position the Packers need him to, but at 6-1, 235, he most likely projects as an inside linebacker. He played all three linebacker spots at South Florida – the middle, weak side and strong side, and he said he never came off the field when the defense went to its nickel and dime packages.

The pre-draft process was somewhat taxing for Barrington. First, nearly every team he talked to asked about the four arrests he has for driving with a suspended or revoked license. He explained it was an issue of not getting some traffic tickets “taken care of,” but he insists everything is cleared up now.

Then, Barrington needed to prove his athletic ability at his pro day after a disappointing showing at the combine. He bounced back well enough to become a late selection rather than having to go the undrafted free agent route, and even though Thompson called him a “good value” pick, Barrington knows the work to make it in the NFL is just beginning.

“I want to be ready to gain the trust of my coaches and teammates and learn the playbook as fast as possible so I can come in and contribute,” he said.

 

 
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