Palmer Adds Depth, Pass-Rush Potential

Courtesy Illinois State

Nate Palmer, the Packers' sixth-round pick, led the FCS level with 27 quarterback hits during a big senior season. He started his career at Illinois.

The Green Bay Packers used their sixth-round pick on Nate Palmer, who will fortify an outside linebacker group that had just four players on the depth chart.

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 told Packer Report for a story after his predraft meeting with the Packers. "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."

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