With that as a backdrop, Packer Report is running a series of profiles on this year's outside linebacker candidates. We continue with ...
College: Georgia Tech
Height/Weight: 6-foot-3 1/4, 252 pounds
Agility tests: 4.61 in the 40-yard dash…1.62 10-yard dash…2.69 20-yard dash…4.33 20-yard shuttle…7.23 three-cone drill…31-inch vertical jump…9'-7" broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 20 times…33-inch arm length…9 7/8-inch hands…81 1/4-inch wingspan.
Injury report: 2011 season — Sat out the Maryland and Virginia games with a lower leg injury. 2012 season — Did not play vs. Middle Tennessee State due to a leg contusion.
Number to note: Among active NCAA FBS players, Attaochu is second with 31.5 total sacks.
Metaphorically speaking, it's about a million miles between Nigeria and Green Bay.
Then again, maybe not.
Jeremiah Attaochu moved to the United States with his mother and siblings in 2001, when he was 8. Even before his father, Paul, moved to the United States in 1997, he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Wisconsin-Stout as part of an exchange program.
During their four years apart, Paul Attaochu worked at a church while earning a ministry degree. Often, it was a 20-hours-a-day grind.
"A very big influence on me," Jeremiah said at the Scouting Combine. "Just the work ethic and things like that."
Jeremiah Attaochu's put in the time in honing his craft, whether it was through his training or studying the likes of Clay Matthews. During his first three seasons at Georgia Tech, he played outside linebacker in its 3-4 scheme. As a senior, the Yellow Jackers went to a 4-3, which put Attaochu at defensive end.
Whatever the position, Attaochu found himself positioned in the opponents' backfield. He set the school record with 31.5 career sacks, a total that ranks fifth in ACC history and eclipsed that of former ACC standouts Julius Peppers (30.5) and Mario Williams (25.5).
"He can stand up and rush like Ware did, or he can get out and play the run like Osi," said defensive line coach Mike Pelton, who coached DeMarcus Ware and Osi Umenyiora while at %%MATCH_15%%. "(Attaochu) fits right in there with those guys. I wouldn't be surprised if he went to the NFL and had a great career."
Attaochu broke into the starting lineup as a sophomore, finishing with six sacks, 11.5 tackles for losses and two forced fumbles. As a junior, he hit his stride with 10 sacks, 12 tackles for losses and one forced fumble.
Moving to the defensive line as a senior, Attaochu piled up 12.5 sacks and 16 tackles for losses. Most of that production came during the second half of the season, with 10 sacks in the final five games.
While Attaochu believes he can play in any scheme, he said he "definitely" feels more comfortable as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
"Really, any team that needs a pass rusher, I'm definitely a good fit," he said.
Attaochu sustained a partially torn hamstring while covering a punt during the Senior Bowl. The injury prevented him from testing at the Scouting Combine. At Georgia Tech's recent pro day, Attaochu had a tremendous performance. According to NFL.com's Gil Brandt, Attaochu ran his 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds with a 37.5-inch vertical leap. Not only is he an explosive athlete, but he's got length with his 33-inch arms.
"Being a Pro Bowl player. I think that's the type of player that I am," Attaochu said. "That's the type I've been in college. I've been great for my team and for my school. I'd like to take my game to the next level. I know there are things that I can work on. There are still things in my game that I have to get better at for the NFL and I'm ready to do that."
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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 email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.