The Packers went big in the Big Ten for a second straight draft choice, selecting defensive end Michael Neal of Purdue in the second round tonight. Neal is 6-3 and 294 pounds and bulked up during his entire career in West Lafayette. He arrived on campus as a 245 pounder and never left the weight room. By the end of his college career he posted some very impressive numbers with the weights. A bench press of 510 pounds, 615 on the squat and a 385 pound clean lift. Neal played primarily inside as a defensive tackle at Purdue but the Packers see him as a big defensive end in the 3-4 front, joining the likes of fellow 300 pounders Cullen Jenkins and Johnny Jolly. Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac says while Neal may not have been rated as highly as some other front line defenders (some scouting services projected him as no higher than a third round pick), he showed outstanding ability to punch inside and quickness to slip underneath protection and get to the quarterback. In his junior and senior seasons, Neal recorded 21 and a half tackles for losses and 11 of his career 13 sacks. Boilermaker head coach Danny Hope said "Michael can be a great player, not only at his position, but in this league. He may be the best defensive lineman to come out of Purdue since Jeff Zgonia, the Big Ten defensive player of the year in 1992 who had a 15 year run in the NFL. As for the Merrillville, Indiana native, Neal said he had no idea the Packers were interested in him after having minimal contact at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. The NFL draft report listed Neal as a Super Sleeper Team member. As the 56th overall pick, Neal joins Iowa offensive tackle Brian Bulaga as the big two on the Packers 2010 Big Ten draft board.
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