Combine Interview Could Fill Pickett's Role

Not that Ryan Pickett is going anywhere after a superb 2012, but Packers need to start planning to replace him as the oldest player on the roster begins his final year under contact. This massive 3-4 nose tackle had a formal interview with Green Bay.

Ryan Pickett, at age 33, is the oldest player on the Green Bay Packers' roster, and he'll be entering the final year under contract.

Pickett's job in Green Bay appears secure for another year after he led the defensive line in tackles by a wide margin in 2012. Nonetheless, the Packers enter this draft with a need — albeit not a pressing one — to add a big, run-stuffing defensive lineman.

Perhaps that will be Georgia Tech's T.J. Barnes, who had a formal interview with the Packers at the Scouting Combine, Barnes said.

Barnes is big. Really big. He checked in at 6-foot-6 and 369 pounds. That, incredibly, was down about 10 pounds from what he weighed at the Raycom Collegiate All-Star Game; he said he'd like to shed another 10 pounds before the draft and more for the start of the season.

"It's not a concern for me because I hide my weight well," Barnes said — quite accurately. "When I take off my shirt, they are like where is the weight at. I still want to be comfortable and be able to play at 350 pounds."

Barnes played in a reserve role during his first three seasons at Georgia Tech before breaking into the starting lineup in the middle of Tech's 3-4 defense as a senior. He was an honorable mention on the all-ACC team, leading the Yellow Jackets' defensive linemen with 28 tackles. He added 1.5 sacks and five tackles for losses, and he used his height and length (35-inch arms) to swat down three passes.

For his size, he's not a bad athlete. He ran his 40-yard dash in 5.22 seconds.

"They will be able to see that I am able to move for my size," he said before his workout. "They'll be more impressed with how I move."

Barnes, who needs to get stronger with "just" 25 reps on the bench, is considered fourth- or fifth-round prospect. Athletics is in his DNA. A cousin, Fred Baxter, caught 100 passes during a 12-year NFL career as a tight end. A brother, Beau Reliford, played tight end at Florida State and spent training camp last summer with the Redskins.

"I talk to my brother about this whole process every time that I get," Barnes said. "He went through it last year and he just took me under his wing and told me what I need to do and how to go about."

Barnes capped his career with Georgia Tech's 21-7 upset win over USC in the Sun Bowl. Barnes squared off against USC's Khaled Holmes, who is regarded as one of the better center prospects in this draft.

"I dominated the whole game," Barnes said. "If you see the first play of the game, it was a zone play and I had an opportunity to make a tackle but I just wanted to make myself known like, ‘You're going to have to deal with me the whole game,' and put him to the ground."


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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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