The Packers used one of their 30 allotted formal interviews at the Scouting Combine on Michigan State's All-American defensive tackle, Jerel Worthy.
"They have a great coaching staff and they were very down-to-earth," Worthy told Packer Report for the first of our pre-draft exclusives. "It was real conversation. They wanted to know my background a little bit, a little bit about football, watched a little film. They left very impressed at how I presented myself and I think I'll be hearing from them in the near future as far as personal workouts."
Worthy (6-foot-2, 308 pounds) declared for the draft following a standout junior season due in part to "health issues" with his parents. In 2011, he registered 3.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for losses, 14 quarterback hits and 10 quarterback hurries. In his three seasons, Worthy started 38 of a possible 40 games, finishing with 12 sacks and 27.5 tackles for losses.
He was Michigan State's first Associated Press first-team All-American at defensive tackle since Pro Football Hall of Famer Charles "Bubba" Smith in 1966.
"It's an honor just to be mentioned in the same category as a great Spartan. It's just an honor," Worthy said.
Worthy received an equally big honor during the season that left him "honored and humbled". When Michigan State hosted Notre Dame on Sept. 17, the Spartans paid tribute to Smith and the 45th anniversary of "The Game of the Century. That famous 10-10 tie against the Irish in 1966 was the final game of Smith's collegiate career. To honor Smith, the team took Smith's No. 95 out of retirement and handed it to Worthy, who normally wears No. 99.
"I went with my regular routine and I put my jersey on and inspected myself in the mirror," Worthy recalled. "I went through it and I looked at myself in the mirror and I'm like, ‘OK, I'm good to go.' Shirt's talked in and I walked away and didn't even notice that I had it on."
If the Packers were to land Worthy, they'd field a potentially dominant defensive line of Worthy, Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji, with some combination of Mike Neal, Howard Green, Jarius Wynn and C.J. Wilson vying for the backup slots.
Asked about the defensive linemen he looks up to for their play on the field, he mentioned Detroit's Ndamukong Suh ("a great technician"), Arizona's Darnell Dockett (explosive, leverage and attitude) and New England's Vince Wilfork ("just a technician").
Unlike Suh, Worthy hasn't had any on-the-field incidents.
"I'm good on that. I don't have any off-the-field issues," Worthy said. "I'm not that mean type of guy that he is, but at the same time, you've got to bring that attitude and you've got to earn your respect. The way he plays, a lot of guys respect him for it."
An incredibly smart player – how many defensive linemen look at where an offense is lined up and alerts to his teammates to the quarterback's hot reads? – Worthy says criticism of his consistency is true "to an extent." His vow to improve in that area is one of the messages he's been giving to scouts and coaches during interviews.
"I'm a great individual off the field, great character guy," he said. "I interact with a lot of people very well. I'm a hard worker, and the consistency knock is something that needs to be erased. By going out here (on Monday) when we run and going through drills and things of that nature, I just want to prove to guys 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'm ready to showcase my talents.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.