Packers Annual Checkup: DL Jerel Worthy

Today is the 52nd day of FOX Sports Wisconsin Packers writer Paul Imig’s offseason evaluations of every player on Green Bay’s roster. Click here for all of Paul’s previous evaluations and come back every day through mid-March for Paul’s in-depth film and statistical analysis. Coming up soon:

Today: DL Jerel Worthy
Thursday, March 21: OLB Frank Zombo


Season stats: 14 games (all regular season), 14 tackles, one missed tackle, 2.5 sacks, 10 stops, five QB hurries, zero batted passes, one forced fumble, five penalties committed; played 467 snaps

Best game: Week 2 win over Chicago (three tackles, three stops, one sack; played 37 of 63 defensive snaps; tied for season-best 1.4 PFF rating)

Worst game: Week 12 loss at New York Giants (one tackle; played 20 of 66 defensive snaps; minus-1.4 PFF rating) season rating: minus-11.4 (third-worst on Packers defense; worst among Packers defensive linemen)

Expectations at the start of the season: Medium

Expectations were … Not met

Looking live: The Packers traded up in the second round of the 2012 draft to select Worthy with the 51st overall pick. Worthy, a consensus All-American and first-team All-Big Ten selection out of Michigan State, was rated by some as a first-round talent. When he was still available late in the second round, it prompted general manager Ted Thompson — who rarely gives up multiple draft picks to move up — to make a trade to bring the 22-year-old defensive lineman to Green Bay. When Worthy got to training camp, he immediately displayed a lively, outgoing on-field personality. If a player was heard shouting, it was likely Worthy. During those practices, as well as in preseason, Worthy had moments where it appeared he could be a very good player early in his career. There were other days, however, when he looked like the type of player who could take several years to develop. When the regular season began, Worthy was on the field for more than 50 percent of the defensive snaps for the first seven games. From Week 8 on, his playing time was drastically cut back until he suffered a serious knee injury in the final regular-season game.

Upon further review: Worthy had seven regular-season games to show what he could do when given a lot of opportunities. What defensive coordinator Dom Capers and his staff saw was a young player who disappeared at times while learning the NFL game. Capers determined that Worthy’s production was not there with enough frequency to continue having him on the field so often. Throughout the second half of the season, Worthy was primarily used as a pass rusher in Green Bay’s sub packages. After Week 8, 98 of Worthy’s 150 snaps were against the pass (65.3 percent). The reduced playing time didn’t increase his play-making moments, though. In Worthy’s 98 snaps as a pass rusher in the final eight games, he generated a quarterback hurry twice and added a half-sack. Worthy was decent as a run stopper, but he wasn’t given as many opportunities in that area. He struggled with five penalties in the first seven games but didn’t commit another one after that.

Overall 2012 grade: C-minus

Status for 2013: Because of offseason knee surgery, there is about a 10 percent chance of Worthy being on the Packers’ active roster in Week 1 next season. Coach Mike McCarthy even admitted during the Scouting Combine in late February that “training camp is definitely going to be a stretch” for Worthy to be ready. It’s possible that Worthy could return midway through the regular season, but even that remains somewhat in doubt. Green Bay’s defensive line will have to prepare for the 2013 season as if Worthy won’t be able to contribute and then consider it a bonus if he is able to play.

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