With the 25th pick of the 6th round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers selected Illinois State defensive end Nate Palmer. Before finishing his career at Illinois State University, Palmer began playing college football in the Big Ten Conference with the University of Illinois.
After redshirting in 2008, Palmer played two more years with the Illini, registering nine tackles and earning Academic All-Big Ten honors. After his sophomore campaign, Palmer broke his foot after he was knocked off of a motor scooter. Shortly after the incident, Palmer transferred to Illinois State University.
In his two seasons with the Redbirds in the Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC), Palmer recorded 117 total tackles, 25.5 tackles for loss, 17 sacks, and was twice named to the All-MVFC second team. As a junior, Palmer recorded a conference-best 9.5 sacks. In his final season, Palmer recorded the 4th-highest sack total and 5th-most tackles for loss in the MVFC.
Palmer, who wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine, ran a 4.7 40-yard dash, recorded a 35.5-inch vertical, and put up 20 reps on the 225-pound bench press at Northwestern’s pro day. Palmer also had a pre-draft workout with Green Bay, and Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy had to have noticed Palmer’s ability to knock the football loose (five forced fumbles at Illinois State), and his ability to create havoc behind the line of scrimmage.
“It has been an emphasis defensively to create more fumbles”, said McCarthy, whose Packers forced eight fumbles last season, 2nd-lowest total in the league, “We need to cause more fumbles”.
Coach McCarthy likes Palmer, who will play outside linebacker for the Packers, and was very impressed with the former Redbird in mini-camp in May.
“He (Palmer) got better every week”, said McCarthy, “he has such good hands, I was about ready to move him to tight end (after ball drills)”.
Packers’ General Manager Ted Thompson also likes what he sees out of Palmer despite his small and undersized 6’2, 248-pound stature. “He has good length. He has prototype size, he’ll look the part”, Thompson said.
Palmer, who will turn 24 years old in September, will be competing with rookies Sam Barrington, Donte Savage, Andy Mulumba, and second-year player Dezman Moses for a roster spot in training camp. Palmer, who is extremely raw, also possesses tremendous athleticism and has a solid chance to make the final 53-man cut at the end of August. Palmer will wear the number 51 jersey for the Packers.
Tomorrow, Packers 101 will showcase Packers’ 5th round draft choice Josh Boyd, and how he was first noticed by Packers’ defensive line coach Mike Trgovac.
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