Outside LB Prospect Visits

Illinois State's Nate Palmer, who led the nation in quarterback hits as a senior and piled up 17 sacks and five forced fumbles in two seasons, is impressed by Kevin Greene's passion and intensity. Learn more in yet another Packer Report draft exclusive.

Nate Palmer's pre-draft visit with the Green Bay Packers on Monday was highlighted by a sitdown conversation with outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene.

The gravity of that talk, however, didn't hit him until today.

"I did but I didn't (know about Greene's legacy)," Palmer told Packer Report on Tuesday. "I didn't realize it until I got back to school this morning. I woke up this morning and thought, ‘Man, I just met Kevin Greene.'"

To fans attending training camp and to reporters who cover the team, Greene is known as the excitable, passionate, 10-miles-a-minute All-Pro linebacker-turned-assistant coach. That's the same Greene who Palmer met during his visit.

"Exactly the same," Palmer said. "We had a real general conversation but it was intense. I could pretty much tell what kind of football player he was just from the conversation we had and the things that we talked about. It would be pretty fun playing for him."

Greene is the NFL's career leader among linebackers in sacks. As a senior captain at Illinois State, Palmer led the nation in quarterback hits (27) and piled up 7.5 sacks, 15 tackles for losses and three forced fumbles.

Palmer started his career at Illinois but transferred after redshirting in 2008 and seeing only spot duty in 21 games in 2009 and 2010. In his first season at Illinois State, Palmer rang up 9.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for losses and two forced fumbles.

"A lot of people think I'm a speed guy, so I do speed-to-power a lot, and that's how I get a lot of my sacks," he said. "I rush speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, and then I switch it up and just bull them out of nowhere and they get all off-balance because they're expecting the speed. "

The Packers have a major lack of depth at outside linebacker, with no depth behind Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Dezman Moses. After losing Erik Walden in free agency and electing not to re-sign oft-injured Frank Zombo, the only other outside linebacker on the roster is Micah Johnson, who was signed to the practice squad on New Year's Eve.

Palmer (6-2, 248) was selected for the NFLPA all-star game, where he impressed scouts with his explosion and strength. He continued his strong offseason with excellent workouts at pro days hosted by Northwestern and Illinois State. He ran a 4.69 in the 40 with a 35.5-inch vertical and 20 reps on the bench.

"That game went well," he said. "The best advice I got from there, I got it from my position coach. He said I'm a good pass rusher but sometimes I work my moves too far away from the tackle, so I need to close the distance. When he told me that, it made a lot of sense, so that's something I work on. When I work on my moves, I do them when I'm up on the bag vs. a step-and-a-half away from it."

Palmer said his father was the person most instrumental in getting him into position to reach the NFL.

"He's been through a lot in his life," Palmer said. "He's been to jail a few times and he went down the wrong path, but after a while, he got his life on track. He never made an excuse for anything and now he has his own truck company. I just see that and it's like, ‘Man, here he is with the world against him and he still found a way to make it, so I shouldn't have any excuses.' I've never been in any trouble in my life."

Palmer most likely will go undrafted, though there's some intriguing potential to be molded by a coach like Greene.

"I think about (being drafted or signed) every day, especially with my roommate (former teammate and fellow linebacker Evan Frierson), because he talks about it all the time," Palmer said. "It would be a rewarding feeling but it would be short-lived. Just because you get picked up or drafted, you've still got to go out and make the team. I feel like we'll celebrate that moment but when that moment is over with, it's back to work."


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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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