Packers pick LB Nick Barnett

Twists and turns in the first round led the Packers to land the first linebacker chosen in the 2003 NFL Draft, Oregon State's Nick Barnett.<P> Barnett quietly established himself among the top OLBs in the draft, but it was no secret to the Packers, GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said.<p>

Barnett, 6-2, 236 pounds, quietly led the Pac-Ten in tackles last season. While he did not receive the press given other LB prospects such as Boss Bailey and E.J. Henderson, Barnett's stock had taken leaps and bounds in the days immediately leading up to the draft.

"This was a player that we identified a long time ago as someone who can come in and impact our defense," Sherman said. "He can make a difference in stopping the run. We're excited to be able to get him with this pick."

We like the team we've got coming back, and Nick Barnett is going to be a big part of that and we're excited about that."

Part of Barnett's attraction was his superlative performance in the NFL Combine and individual workouts. His 4.5 40 was among the top LB times turned in at hte combine.

Barnett played safety as a true freshman, then matured into a two-year starter at LB, playing both weakside and strongside. In two seastons as starter, Barnett compiled 194 tackles (121 as a senior) and 26.5 tackles for loss plus eight sacks.

Don't confuse the draft pundits' quiet approach to Barnett with the linebacker's on-field demeanor. He is said to have a "mean streak" and is known for applying wicked hits.

The take on Barnett is:

"With all the talent coming out of the Pac Ten on a yearly basis someone is bound to get overlooked. That player is Oregon State linebacker Nick Barnett, an explosive middle line defender that plays with the same intensity and productivity as did the man he replaced."

Stay tuned to for all the details, updated throughout the draft.

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