Apr 22, 2012

Jerel Worthy could be Michigan State's first 1st-round NFL Draft pick since 2003

Photo: Associated Press -- Jerel Worthy never lost to Michigan. That's not really important when it comes to draft talk, just a reminder.

By Adam Biggers

The Michigan State Spartans haven't had more than two players taken in the NFL Draft since 2008. And perhaps more interesting is the fact that they haven't had a player taken in the first round since 2003, when the Detroit Lions selected wide receiver Charles Rogers with the No. 2 pick.

Well, starting Thursday, the Spartans could see at least four (maybe up to six) players taken in the 2012 NFL Draft. More importantly, Michigan State could see one of its own go in the first round: defensive tackle Jerel Worthy.

Now, Worthy didn't blow away the competition during the NFL Combine. However, he's ranked 22nd in Scout's top players available and ranked the No. 2 defensive tackle behind Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox.

Initially, Worthy was thought of as an early second-round pick. But he's slated to go in the first round, according to a handful of mock drafts.

Worthy, who would be a senior come fall, was an incredibly aggressive and reliable defender at Michigan State. He had a spectacular sophomore year and followed up with a solid junior year, in which he was named an All-American. Worthy started 38 times at defensive tackle and made 107 tackles -- 27.5 for a loss, which is 13th in school history. His 12 sacks are the 12th-most in Spartans history.

When looking at other Spartans in this year's draft, it's almost certain that Worthy -- who combined for six tackles in three wins over Michigan -- will be the first taken. Although it's uncertain if he's a shoo-in first-rounder, he'll probably be selected before teammates Kirk Cousins, BJ Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, Trenton Robinson and Edwin Baker.

Keith Nichol, Brian Linthicum and Garrett Celek are also eligible for the draft.

Stay tuned for more NFL Draft coverage from Gang Green, the Oakland Press' No. 1 MSU blog (or so we'd like to think).

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