OLB Interviews With Packers

This player, who had eight sacks as a senior defensive end to earn all-conference honors on the field and in the classroom, knows the Packers have a hole opposite Clay Matthews.

Ted, if you're reading, Jamie Blatnick has a good idea.

"They could use a nice rush (outside linebacker) opposite Clay (Matthews)," the Oklahoma State defensive end/outside linebacker told Packer Report at the Scouting Combine. "I think that would work out good. That would be a good duo right there, I think. It would be fun."

It's all but a certainty that Ted Thompson, the Packers' general manager, will use at least one pick on an outside linebacker in two months. One possibility is Blatnick, who had a formal interview with the Packers at the Combine.

Blatnick (6-3, 263) was named first-team all-Big 12, both on the field and in the clsasroom, and was the Cowboys' defensive MVP. He had team highs of eight sacks and 13.5 tackles for losses, and added five quarterback hits, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and one interception.

Blatnick played defensive end for Oklahoma State and would have to learn the ropes at outside linebacker. Playing linebacker requires a number of things, including:

— The ability to rush the passer. He seems to have that, with 13.5 sacks during his final two seasons.

Jamie Blatnick
Mark D. Smith/US Presswire
— Instincts and vision in space: Unlike many of the so-called tweeners, Blatnick didn't test at linebacker at the Combine. Blatnick has no shortage of intelligence, though. He has earned his degree and has started work on his master's in applied exercise sciences.

"If you do what you're supposed to do and get your hours done, it just flows," he said. "Don't drop any classes. If I knew what I wanted to do my freshman year, I would have had my master's degree and might have had two degrees by now. I would have done in three, then had two years to do whatever I wanted."

— The athletic ability to play in space: His performance at the Combine wasn't anything to get overly excited about, with a 4.84 in the 40-yard dash and a 10-yard split of 1.72 seconds. That 10-yard split was slower than Memphis' 346-pound freak, Dontari Poe, for instance. However, to play linebacker takes flexible hips to keep up with shifty backs and tight ends in coverage. Blatnick has that, thanks to practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu for two years.

"I kind of do it just to survive during Thanksgivings and Christmases," said Blatnick, referencing brothers that are 8 and 16 years older. "That's really just hip flexibility. It helps getting your hips turned and being loose and getting an extra sweat in during the season."

— Toughness: Blatnick agreed that having significantly older brothers, who are purple and brown belts in jiu-jitsu, is something akin to survival of the fittest.

"They made me tougher," he said. "When you grow up with two older brothers, they'll wear you out a little bit."

Blatnick isn't a highly ranked prospect, but Thompson's way has been to try to improve that position through sheer numbers every year. Outside of Matthews, he used a seventh-round pick on Brad Jones in 2009 and a sixth-round pick on Ricky Elmore in 2011, plus signed Frank Zombo, Vic So'oto and Jamari Lattimore, among others, as undrafted free agents.

"I think it'd be fun," Blatnick said about being an outside linebacker. "That's one of the reasons why I started cutting down weight a little bit. I used to weigh in around 270, 273, and I feel comfortable there, but I thought I'd cut weight and show that I'm flexible."

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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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