The Green Bay Packers haven't drafted many Michigan State Spartans -- only two since 1989 -- but they grabbed one that could be one of their most productive when they took defensive tackle Jerel Worthy with the 51st pick of the 2012 NFL Draft.
The Packers took guard William Whitticker in the seventh round of the 2005 draft and selected Tony Mandarich, one of Michigan State's greatest offensive linemen, with the second overall pick of the 1989 draft.
Worthy, who is 12th on Michigan State's career sack leaderboard, will likely fall somewhere in between the two. Mandarich started at offensive tackle in 31 of 45 games with the Packers before ending his career with the Indianapolis Colts. Whitticker was productive with the Spartans, but didn't have such luck with Green Bay, or as a professional.
It's doubtful that Worthy feels the need to compare himself to Spartans of the past, let alone ones who were drafted by Green Bay. He's focused on making his own way and creating a name for himself.
He admitted to being a bit nervous come draft time. He was projected to be a late first-rounder, and it was said that the Denver Broncos were highly interested.
"I was just trying to be patient," said Worthy. "I knew my time would come. I knew that an organization would fall in love with me and they would willing to take me and they would take the chance on me. Green Bay saw my potential. They saw I can make some plays and I'm just ready to get after it. I'm just ready to prove to people that I'm a great player and I'm deserving of wearing the Packer jersey.
"When I got the call from the general manager and he said we're going to trade up to get you, it was an unbelievable to talk to the general manager of the Green Bay Packers and I was just excited, man. I'm just ready to go."
Green Bay, one of the NFL's top teams, addressed an important need when it selected Worthy. The Packers defense allowed 6.3 yards per play, tied with Tampa Bay for most in the NFL. Green Bay, which gave up 411 yard per outing, had trouble stopping drives, allowing 22.4 first downs per game, second-most in the NFL.
Worthy could be part of the answer and help Green Bay limit opposing offenses. The former All-American had 27.5 tackles for a loss during his three-year career in East Lansing. He was a great pass-rusher; although ESPN's John Gruden begged to differ.
At 6-foot-3 and somewhere in the neighborhood of 310 pounds, Worthy certainly has the size to take up a lot of space on the defensive line. He's surprisingly quick for a guy his size, too. Green Bay made the right call by taking one of the Big Ten's top defensive tackles in the past handful of years.
Adam Biggers has followed NCAA football for over 20 years, specifically the Michigan State Spartans. He can be found on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.
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