In Dom Capers’ 3-4 defense, you need a lot of linebackers. Green Bay Packers rookie Sam Barrington may have joined the Packers at the right time, with the offseason departures of no less than four veterans: Erik Walden, Desmond Bishop, D.J. Smith and Frank Zombo.
Despite the turnover among the Packers’ linebacker corps, Barrington, a seventh-round draft choice from South Florida, faces an uphill battle to make the Packers’ opening day 53-man roster. He primarily played outside linebacker for the Bulls, but projects to inside linebacker for the Packers, largely due to his pedestrian 40 time of 4.91. The Packers list him at 235 pounds, which is about 10 pounds less than his college playing weight. He will compete for a roster spot in the interior with veterans A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Robert Francois and Terrell Manning.
Like most low-drafted or free agent linebackers, Barrington’s chances will depend upon his ability to make an impact on special teams. Switching from outside to inside may be his best chance to make the team, but it raises the hurdle in his race against other training camp competitors. With defensive end Mike Neal taking practice snaps at outside linebacker, the Packers might be inclined to keep fewer linebackers this year if they can get double duty out of Neal.
Sam Barrington fast facts:
Size: 6-foot-1, 235 pounds
College: South Florida
Jersey: No. 58
Bio: During Barrington’s senior season at South Florida, he earned second-team All Big-East honors and played in the East-West Shrine game. His 7.3 tackles per game ranked him eighth in the Big East. He started 11 of 12 total games in 2012, garnering 80 total tackles. He also netted 3.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.
Chances of making the Packers’ roster: Fair — The Packers usually keep nine or more linebackers and recent veteran departures opens the door for Barrington.
Practice squad eligible: Yes.