In day two of the Green Bay Packers rookie watch, we here at Packers 101 analyze former South Florida linebacker Sam Barrington, and how he fits within the Packers’ defense. Barrington, who has tweener NFL linebacker size (6’1, 246), will most likely play both inside and outside linebacker for the Packers (Barrington played both positions in college). Barrington, who started three of four seasons at South Florida, is a talented kid who may have a tough time cracking the Packers’ deep linebacker core.
When Barrington committed to former South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt’s Bulls, Leavitt said Barrington was the “most talented linebacker he’s ever recruited”. Coming from a guy who coached former South Florida standout linebackers Stephen Nicholas, Jacquain Williams, Tyrone McKenzie, and Kawika Mitchell, a LOT was expected out of Barrington.
Unfortunately, Barrington never truly lived up to Leavitt’s expectations with the Bulls. As a freshman, Barrington recorded 41 tackles and two tackles for loss. In his sophomore year, Barrington became a full-time starter, recording 65 tackles, six and a half tackles for loss, and forcing two fumbles.
As a junior, Barrington upped his tackling ante to 72, recorded six and a half tackles for loss, two and a half sacks, and intercepted one pass. In his final season, Barrington recorded 80 total tackles, six and a half tackles for loss, three and a half sacks, and forced two fumbles.
On paper, Barrington didn’t stand out, but he showed improvement each season. Although showing improvement throughout a college career may help a player’s draft stock, it doesn’t always help.
Barrington struggled at the NFL Combine, putting up 22 reps on the bench press and recording a 4.9-second 40-yard dash. As a result, Barrington was the 26th of 28 linebackers selected in the 2013 NFL Draft, and was Packers’ general manager Ted Thompson’s final 2013 draft selection.
For a player who was expected to do a lot more before first walking onto South Florida’s practice field, he has quite a bit to prove at training camp to steal away a roster spot.
Barrington, who will play either outside or inside linebacker in the Packers’ 3-4 defensive scheme, will have to squeeze into a linebacker core occupied by eight players: Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Dezman Moses, A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Terrell Manning, Jamari Lattimore, and Robert Francois. Last season, Green Bay kept nine linebackers on the roster. Most likely, the final linebacker roster spot will come down to Barrington, fellow draft selection Nathan Palmer, and undrafted rookies Andy Mulumba and Donte Savage.
Rumors are swirling that the Packers will possibly move defensive end Mike Neal to outside linebacker. If the rumor becomes fact, Barrington’s chances to make the Packers final 53-man roster are very slim at best.
If Barrington makes the final cut, he will wear the number 58 jersey. Tomorrow, Packers 101 will analyze and showcase another Packer 7th round selection: former Maryland Terrapin wide receiver Kevin Dorsey.
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