Packers Curious Love Affair with Nate Palmer All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Packers sixth round pick in the 2013 NFL draft, Nate Palmer, OLB, Illinois St.
Nate Palmer, OLB, Illinois St.

Ted Thompson didn’t have to do it. Nate Palmer was not going to be drafted. You would be hard pressed to find him breaking the top 400 in anyone’s big board or player rankings.

Yet, when the Packers’ turn came up in the sixth round, they made Palmer the 193rd player drafted. This despite the fact they were holding three seventh round picks, and could have surely taken him with their last pick at # 232. Even better, as the only team that had him in for a tryout, the Packers would have been frontrunners to sign him as an Undrafted Free Agent (UDFA), although I can understand not wanting to risk that.

But why jump the gun and take him in the sixth? This is a question that’s been bugging me for the last month. In a draft where the Packers got fantastic value by not jumping the gun on Eddie Lacy or Johnathan Franklin, why not let Palmer fall to them in the 7th? That’s what Ted does.

Now, I can hear you all out there saying, “Hey Al – that’s speculation, some other team could have taken him.” Of course that’s a possibility, but pretty remote, as neither Palmer or his coach expected him to be drafted at all. He wasn’t even listed as a Free Agent signee on most draft boards, meaning he was expected to be a tryout invite guy. He was shocked when he got the call from Green Bay.

The Packers have had some measure of success in bringing in DE to OLB conversion projects from small schools (Zombo, Lattimore, Moses), but all were free agents. So does drafting Palmer mean they think he is a better prospect than the rest?

By now, you probably know the story of how Packers OLB coach Kevin Greene and Illinois State coach Spence Nowinsky spent a day together exchanging pass-rushing knowledge and watching tape of Clay Matthews (if not, read about it here). As he watched the Packers defense and how they used Matthews, Nowinsky kept thinking to himself how well Palmer would fit in the Packers’ defense. “As I’m watching that, I’m thinking Nate has a great opportunity with the Packers because his skill, his athleticism, his work ethic, he fits in really good,” Nowinsky said.

He must have convinced Greene, because the Packers had him up to Green Bay for a visit, the only NFL team to do so. Palmer impressed the Packers not only with his athletic ability, but with his football intelligence. He was able to get up on the white board and hold his own with the Xs and Os when analyzing Packers’ defensive schemes.

When Palmer met up with Greene, he got a bit of a rah-rah speech from Greene after they watched some tape of Clay Matthews: “‘I can get you there, if you want it. If you want to go there, I got what it takes to get you to that next level. All you have to do is be a hard worker like him. I think that’s the kind of person you are. Let’s go. Let’s go to that next level,” he was told by Greene.

So here’s Kevin Greene talking to some no-name linebacker that’s barely a blip on the radar screen of the NFL draft and he’s telling him I can get you to where Clay Matthews is. Huh?

Perhaps that’s what Greene says to all prospects, but if it’s not, and he really believes it, I guess that explains the Packers surreptitious love affair with Palmer and their unwillingness to wait.

Color me intrigued…


Follow Jersey Al:

                    Add to Circleson Google+

Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for


58 thoughts on “Packers Curious Love Affair with Nate Palmer

  1. Al: Let me “dis intrigue” you. An unidentified but unreliable informant has started an irresponsible and unconfirmed rumor that Palmer’s coach bought Greene two whoopers with fries at the Burger King on North Main Street in Normal. That pick was based on TT’s draft-day mantra of selecting “the best burgers available.” That explains everything.

    1. There must be many humorless individuals on this blog! Pardon me for forgetting just how serious football really is.

      1. I think I have a pretty good sense of humor. It was just not funny. best burgers available? don’t get it.

        1. I thought that it was obvious, but maybe it’s too subtle. First of all, if one has ever been to Normal, one should realize there aren’t many good restaurants there but there truly is a Burger King on Main St. Second, “Best burgers available” is a play off of TT’s infamous statement during the draft that he selects the, “Best player available.”

          Just as it is dubious that Burger King has “the best burgers available,” so too is it dubious (in my opinion, at least) that Palmer was “the best player available” at the time the Packers selected him in the 6th round.

          I know that it’s silly, but it was meant to be.

          1. okay. i guess maybe if i had spent time in normal it would have been a little more clear. i am going to give you a thumbs up for the effort.

            1. Let me put a more positive spin on my first post. I wouldn’t want other readers of this site to consider me to be totally negative. Given the lack of haute cuisine in Normal, IL, it is entirely possible that the Burger King there does indeed have “the best burgers available” there, just as it is entirely possible that Nate Palmer was “the best player available” . . . in Normal.

              P.S. I am considering changing my blogger’s name to “FireTTNow.” Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

        2. Are you qualified to judge humor? What makes you better than TT to judge humor? Just kidding, FMMN, I continually enjoy your contributions to this blog!

  2. wasted pick.

    a kicker would have been smarter.

    dude wasn’t good enough to get on the field for Illinois… and Illinois sucks.

    chances are he’ll never even be as good as Walden or Zombo were.

    like i said… wasted pick.

    1. Ok Nostradamus. Is that crystal ball you carry around heavy? You, like me and every other Packer fan no absolutely nothing when compared to the the people in charge. They picked him for a reason. How about you lighten it up a touch and see how it pans out.

  3. And yet, they seem so hard up for OLBs that they’re plugging Mike Neal in at subpackages? Curious.

  4. My feeling is that late round picks are largely dictated by the personal preferences of the front office and the coaches. While it’s pretty easy to say who the top 3 outside linebackers are in any draft, it’s a lot harder to pick out any significant differences between the 20th-23rd best outside linebackers(think of a bell curve). I’m guessing they thought Nate Palmer fit into their preferences more than any other player at that point.

    As for overspending by drafting him, I’m not entirely sure you can say any late round pick is an overspend. The success rate of a late round pick is so low anyways that the vast majority could be considered “busts” from a performance perspective.

    1. Hey, John Jolly was a 6th round pick. So were Mason Crosby, James Starks, Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith. Moreover, Brad Jones and C.J. Wilson were 7th rounders. I don’t believe that we should waste a pick because of a position coach’s “personal preferences.” Someone good but overlooked, like CB Jordan Poyer, could have been selected instead of Palmer.

      1. I’m not saying that every low round draft pick is a waste, but the percentage of picks who end up being successful NFL players is very low: Will Whitticker, Kurt Campbell, Craig Bragg, Mike Montgomery, Dave Tollefson, Clark Harris, DeShawn Wynn, Brett Swain Brandon Underwood, Jarius Wynn, Lawrence Guy, Ryan Taylor, Ricky Elmore and Caleb Schlauderaff have all been replacement-level type players. Realistically for every Donald Driver there are 10 Chris Millers.

        I also don’t see why a front office and coaching staff isn’t allowed to have their preferences, they know the types of players they like so why can’t they target those players?

        1. The issue isn’t whether a front office or a coaching staff is or is not “allowed to have preferences.” That will always happen, people being people. The issue is the hypocrisy of making a selection based upon those preferences and then issuing a public statement pontificating that the Packers’ draft strategy is to select “the best player available.” Such a statement implies an objective standard. Perhaps TT should say before each future draft, “We always select the best player available . . . subjectively speaking, of course.”

          1. There is no hypocrisy. Where there is a preference (ie. you think player X is better than player Y), that preference affects the rankings. No s*** sherlock. You’ve been playing too much Madden. There is no true ability number to say how accurate someone is in their scouting. All draft boards are subjective by nature because human beings create them. There is no reason to state the obvious. That’s like saying “I think” before every sentence. It is unnecessary.

            If you knew anything about football, you’d know BPA only is meant to infer that you don’t factor positional need as heavily in your ratings as your peers. Positional need is only used as a tiebreaker when 2 available players are on your same rating tier. It doesn’t mean that you can’t think one player is better than another (ie different tier).

            1. Now, now . . . breathe deeply and calm down. No need to throw personal insults around. No need for profanity. We are merely discussing football. It’s just entertainment.

            2. I don’t think “BPA” is a term that carries the same meaning from person to person. We all have our own subtle interpretations of how the concept of BPA drives a team’s draft selections.

          2. We should know by now that anything said by TT is a calculated message and not necessarily the truth.

      2. lol how do you know Palmer won’t pan out like all the other players you listed? they obviously have a relatively good track record for late round picks.

        can’t fathom how fans are so much more certain of their knowledge after looking at a few draft boards & youtube clips than TT who has whole teams of scouts that dedicate their entire year (full time job) on finding talent.

        The question remains, will you own up to it a year from now if Poyer does nothing and Palmer sticks?

        1. I can’t predict the future. I can only predict probabilities of something occurring. With NFL football players, one looks at past performance in college and objectively measured capabilities (40 yd. dash time, etc.). Even then, the more probably successful player isn’t always the one who succeeds. Still, when drafting, one has to choose. Does one make a choice based on objective criteria, or does one do it on the basis of personal preferences? The Green Bay Packers are unique in that they are owned by us the fans. Therefore, its management has a duty to us to make decisions on the basis of what is objectively right to make the team better and not on the basis of personal whims. Ted Thompson does not own this team. He serves it.

          Objectively, Poyer was considered to be the “steal of the draft.” See TT missed him and missed others as well in order to select a position coach’s preference. That’s just wrong.

          1. Bleacher report is garbage. you can find an article on there that will say anything. You are exceedingly naive if you think the few stats we have are enough to form an accurate enough representation of a player’s ability quantitatively. There are too many variables interacting on the football field and too small a sample size. This isn’t baseball. If you can’t predict the future and this is just statistics, then say TT “may have missed” instead of “TT missed”. You are basically trying to say there is certainty and there isn’t certainty at the same time. It sounds like you’ve never taken a statistics class in your life.

          2. Scouts use objective measures to analyze and rate players, but when watching film or a game and judging a player, the scout is going to be using his experience and decision making on each trait he judges. Hence, the fact that there is a subjective quality to the objective analysis! WHy the hell is that so hard for you to figure out?

            As someone else stated and I also did recently Bleacher Report is garbage. I used to be on there, but the analysis and writing HS level. I can easily write better and more analytical articles than that cesspool.

            1. In the so-called “real” world, favors are done, people hired, palms are greased, awards given, etc., on the basis of “I like him.” Based upon Al’s article, I have no doubt that Greene liked the kid and his coach and thought he was doing them a favor by convincing TT to pick Palmer in the 6th round even though he wasn’t “in the top 400 in anyone’s big board or player rankings.” I would have no problem with that if that was the decision of the McCaskey-owned Bears or the Jerry Jones-owned Cowboys, or any other team that is privately owned. Even if they picked Palmer in the 1st round, I would have no problem with it. In fact, as a Packer fan, I would be elated at my opponent wasting a draft choice, the higher the better.

              Maybe its just me, but I do have a problem with the Packers doing it. I, as a fan, am an owner of the team and I expect my coaches and managers to do what is right and best for the team and not to dole out favors on the basis of “I like.”

              1. The Packers aren’t in the business of doing favors for college coaches! They are in the business of winning NFL games. Their careers and livelihood depend on it. There is no greasing palms or favors done just to get a player drafted for the coach, especially if the player in question doesn’t have a draftable grade. It runs contrary to the stated goal of the organization. If you really think that happens go to the Jones of the world! Go be a cowgirls fan, where one person attempts (unsuccessfully I might add) to control everything.

              2. Go start a petition to have Thompson removed from office then. I doubt you’ll get anywhere. I would imagine Thompsons approval rating is extremely high!

              3. It is exhausting to have to click the “Hidden Due to Low Rating” “Click here to see” on all of Gregs comments. I have never seen someone with this track record. Either he is a genius or an idiot. Time will tell.

              4. To some extent, a good relationship would benefit an NFL team. “Hey, you were right about ____ that we drafted three years ago, what do you think about ____ this year.” OR “You know, you said the same thing about ____, how is this time different?” GB should work the relationship angles. It’s good business.

  5. I think the Pack were worried he would sign as a UDFA somewhere else. This way, there’s no way he doesn’t end up in GB unless he drafted by someone else, which you stated was extremely remote.

    Now this is my speculation only, but I think there’s some frustration in the war room among the talent evaluators when Ted grabs someone like Palmer who probably could have been signed as a FA.

    Unless a player is so phenomenal, that you can’t stand the thought of losing him, a GM should play the odds. This is one situation where you can have your cake and eat it to.

    The Justin Harrell pick is another example. It wasn’t so much that Harrell was a bust that bothers me, it’s the deal he passed up with Cleveland(that and next years first round picks). I know there’s a school of thought that if you like a player you grab him no matter what. But you have to have a feel for some of this and the risk(someone else picks Harrell before the Pack can use the current year Cleveland first rounder on him) versus reward(Cleveland’s first rounder this year and next year). That deal should have been made and has nothing to do with how Harrell turned out.

    If the Pack are interested in getting quality camp-bodies in for a look at, there’s no way they shouldn’t have drafted another good athlete type in the 7th and then gamble on obtaining Palmer as a UDFA.

    1. I’m sure the Packers have multiple scouts grading each prospect, after grades are given, I know the coaches get involved looking at each prospect and projecting how they fit into the schemes skill set at that position. Its not like Thompson would be the only person grading the players. The vast majority of the time, the other scouts see a player before Thompson looks at him. Then if a player gets a draftable grade then the Top college scout looks before it gets to Thompson. So there are a minimum of 3 eyes on any one prospect and I suspect if they are serious about possibly drafting a player other scouts then grade them.

      This is how I would run a scouting staff at least. It gets multiple scouts, the position coach and one or 2 sets of eyes grading a player.

      Thompson is the decision maker, but its not like he runs a dictatorship.

      1. They brought the kid to GB and decided he was a fit for GB. So much goes into making the decision that we are not aware of but GB believes he can become the bookend to Mathews.

        He is going to give it everything to become that bookend and will not be leaving in a few years.

        If he fails, then TT wasted a 6th round pick. Something tells me the kid will be a sucess. Like Oppy says below, the packers really think they’ve found a true diamond in the rough.

  6. One has to believe that the Packers really, really believe they’ve found a true diamond in the rough with Palmer.

    It’s the only explanation. It would also indicate that the KG rah-rah was heartfelt.

    Perhaps what they found was a kid who was sorely miscast as a DE, with a weakness they’ve identified that limited him in such a role, that the Packers believe will not be a part of the equation as an OLB.

    Who knows, but they certainly made getting Palmer locked in a priority.

    Or, maybe that’s just the name that was drawn out of the hat.

  7. I was hoping they’d get that British Olympian… 6’6″ and 305 of muscle…

    Alas. Went to the 9ers. UDFA.

    This Palmer kid may work out too though. And I like Charles Johnson’s numbers at GVSU.

    1. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but if you believe that Ted Thompson is a good evaluator of football talent, he is going to be less enamored with guys like lawrence okoye because they have no football talent, only potential.

  8. Just to toss a little gas on to the embers, here’s my take on what happened in this:

    Kevin Greene saw or heard something in this kid and went to DC, MM, TT et al and said I REALLY like this kid. Go and get him, no matter what and I’ll give you the bookend to Clay Matthews that we’ve been looking for.

    To the point Al makes, nothing else makes any sense whatsoever because it’s so out of character for TT and the team to essentially throw that pick away unless they absolutely, positively had to make sure that no else snatched this kid up.

    Let’s hope so, eh?

    1. You may be right. It may be perfectly innocent but is seems like there’s something else going on here. I don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t smell right. There are too many undrafted free agents from this one small school in addition to this 6th round pick.

    2. Unless of course Palmer was rated high enough to be draftable before he talked to Greene (who might have made his case as well). The first issue is that just because Palmer wasn’t on anyone’s big board means he’s no good. He only has to be on one big board, being the Packers to justify the pick. Second, given the harsh separation of command been the front office and coaching staff, I don’t think Greene could make Thompson do anything he didn’t want to do. Thompson basically got rid of Favre who was way more influential than Greene .

  9. LOL. I don’t get the angst. The Packers liked him enough to pick him. Intriguing? Sure. But how ’bout we all settle down and see what happens?

  10. I’ll trust the pros on this one. I think they spend a bit more time with and know a bit more about the draft process than Batavia Greg?!

  11. if you don’t like the pick, what other “gems” did we miss on in the later stages of the 6th round that would have made an obvious impact on our team? It was the 6th round. the difference in players at that stage are so minute. It is about coachability, athleticism, work ethic. If they thought Palmer had those things, snatch him up. I don’t understand the fuss over this. — ps, I agree that BleacherReport is filled with HS level writing that is intended to do nothing more than grab the readers attention with a headline or a “top ten” only to disappoint upon further review. GoPack!

  12. It always amazes me when a simple little post like this about a rather minor topic evokes such passionate comments from our readers. Don’t get me wrong – I love it. Packers fans are the absolute best!

    1. If nothing else BG is getting people fired up. I love it too. He is the Million Dollar Man of this blog. Great stuff.

      1. Sure, this BG guy shows up, and he’s everybody’s darling, that’s just great.

        Stroh is yesterday’s news, now, I guess. And poor ol’ cow has been put out to pasture?! He’s been doing it for years!

        But the new kid on the block gets all the attention. Shameful.

        1. “… They will never forget you ’til somebody new comes along. Where you been lately? There’s a new kid in town. Everybody loves him, don’t they? There’s a new kid in town. I don’t want to hear it. There’s a new kid in town, I don’t want to hear it.”

          Eagles, “New Kid in Town”

  13. Excellent comments, logical and from the heart. It is curious a the number of Illinois State players the Packers pursued and signed, one highly rated safety from WI did not pass the physical. Thompson likes kids “all about football” and possibly that type of attitude, game tape, and his interview (visit prior to the draft)led to his selection in the 6th round. One thing for sure he will get a fair chance to make the team, unlike other teams these kids have an opportunity, they are not just camp fodder.

  14. This isn’t much, but I wanted to know what Palmer’s background was, and found out that he was a strong-side LB in his high school career, and he also played on offense, reeling in 10 catches for 250 yards and a touchdown one year.

    Was pretty highly regarded as a HS player making his way to college. I’m starting to wonder if perhaps I may have guessed right- maybe the Packers found a kid that was pressed into a mold he really didn’t fit (as a collegiate DE), or at least, that didn’t take full advantage of his talents. Don’t get me wrong, yeah, this is HS stuff, and NFL players usually have played multiple positions during their amateur careers..

    ” rated among the top-20 players in the state of Illinois by … listed as the No. 39 strongside linebacker by … ranked No. 55 among outside linebackers according to Rivals … named to the Champaign News-Gazette Special Mention All-State team … recorded 128 tackles and 18 tackles as a senior, while catching 10 passes for 250 yards and a touchdown on offense … named to the Midwest Hot 100 list by … posted 30 tackles and seven sacks as a junior while playing in only four games due to injury … “

  15. Obviously not at the same level, but didn’t everyone laugh at CMIII getting drafted in Rd. 1? GB liked what they saw and got him. Period. I think it was the same w/NaPalm.

  16. I agree redlights. I remember the same sort of comments being made about Nick Collins after he was drafted. Why now? Why not a round or 2 later? Unlike the Cowboys, the Packers don’t leak their draft board, but you can bet that the Packers had Palmer rated earlier than they took him and that he was the highest rated OLB on their board. Especially late in the draft, you also have to look the available openings. If the available players were rated relatively equally, picking another rookie RB or O Lineman wasn’t going to provide them with the best competition at all of the positions. Based on their record, I’ll trust the Packer’s personnel department – at least until we see these guys with pads on!

    1. Yeah I like the whole idea of following your board too… supposedly TT sets it, then takes the best player available. You never know what other teams have done as far as scouting, and if you don’t take a because you think he will fall, you risk not getting that player. However, if I were GM (which I will never be), I would have tried to have my cake and eat it too… try to take someone almost as good that is higher profile/bigger college/more likely to be pursued by other teams, and try to get Palmer as a UDFA. The team doesn’t spend even close to the max limit of their signing bonus money ($72,000 for all UDFAs) and with the personal connection we’re sure to get him.

  17. Guess GMs are all rubbish seeing as 32 of them kept on passing on Poyer round after round. Maybe they all forgot to write his name on the board – silly GMs.

    By the 6th round – you take the player you like. Value really shouldn’t come into it at this point as a 6th rounder really isn’t worth that much. If they liked the guy then they take him simple. Presumably they liked Palmer and didn’t like Poyer.

    How stupid would they feel if they really liked a player, didn’t take him because they thought they could get him in the 7th – it turns out another team liked him, picked him and he became a pro bowler.

Comments are closed.