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Perry Unsure About Playing Outside Linebacker

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Perry Unsure About Playing Outside Linebacker

Here's our feature article on Nick Perry originally published on March 1...

Southern Cal defensive end Nick Perry will potentially still be on the board when the Packers pick the 28th player in the first round of the NFL Draft.

But will his hesitation to play in a two-point stance scare teams away like the Packers who would view him as an outside linebacker in their defensive system?

Not that Perry is dismissing outside linebacker entirely, but he's clearly more comfortable playing an end position.

"It’s just that edge," said Perry at the Combine. "Some people have a better edge getting off the ball with their hand in the dirt. I’ve been playing it a long time now, and I have experience in that. Being put further away from what you’re used to doing makes you a little uneasy."

If the Packers are going to make a first-round investment in Perry, they better make sure they're selecting a guy that is comfortable playing in space.

Perry displayed several skills during his workout at the Combine that suggest he has what it takes to make the transition. He finished first among all defensive linemen in both the jumps. He had a 38.5" vertical and tied for first with a 10' 4" broad jump (tied with Rice's Scott Solomon).

He also had the third-fastest 40 time among defensive linemen with a time 4.64 seconds and tied for the fifh-most reps on the 225-pound bench press with 35.

The change of direction drills gave Perry a little more trouble, however. He didn't finish among the top 15 defensive linemen in either the 20-yard shuttle (4.66 seconds) or the three-cone drill (7.25 seconds).

What makes Perry intriguing is that he comes from the same program as Clay Matthews, the player the Packers are trying to find a complement for at the other end of the line of scrimmage.

Consider that USC produced four linebackers in the first four rounds of the 2009 Draft alone, with Brian Cushing of the Texans and Rey Maualuga and Kaluka Maiava of the Bengals joining Matthews.

USC's reputation for placing players in the NFL was one of the reasons Perry enrolled there.

"It was big," said Perry. "Knowing they produce a lot of great players in the league, I wanted to be one of those too."

Perry's production during his junior season in 2011 was impressive. He totaled 54 tackles, 13 for a loss, 8.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.

California tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who also was invited to the NFL Combine and will soon be playing on Sundays, said Perry was one of the toughest players he faced in college.

"He’s a pretty good player," said Schwartz. "On the field he’s a little bit quicker than he is on film. I’ve known that from the year before, playing against him, so I kind of had a good game plan against him, going into it.

"But he’s the speed guy up the field, and he’s pretty strong on the bull rush coming in. You can’t just bail out on the guy and sell out for speed, you’ve got to play with some anchor."

The Packers would certainly like to add that kind of playmaking ability to their anemic pass rush that ranked tied for 27th in the NFL with only 27 sacks in 2011. Only two teams had fewer.

And their sack efficiency was even worse considering all the times opponents dropped back against Green Bay in order to play catch up. The result was the Packers giving up the most passing yards in NFL history and the second-most yards ever.

Now they just have to find out if Perry fits their 3-4 defense.

"I can handle both," said Perry at the NFL Combine. "I prefer 4-3. I like to keep my hand in the dirt, but as long as I’m rushing and getting to the quarterback I’m fine whatever it is."

The Packers might be able to live with that.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (22) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Lou's picture

We won't need to worry about this, because Perry will never make it to the 28th pick. It's a copycat league, and the Giants have won two Super Bowls recently, so anybody with an ounce of rush ability will get overdrafted. I think we'll be looking at guys that most teams have rated as top-2nd but that TT has rated as late-1st (e.g. Kendall Reyes, Ronnell Lewis).

Brian Carriveau's picture

With all the big-time offenses in the NFL now, does that mean WRs, TEs, QBs and the OLs that protect them will get overdrafted too? Sorry, I just don't buy that pass rushers are going to get overdrafted.

With all the big-time passing offenses in the NFL now, does that mean WRs, QBs and the OLs that protect them are all going to get overdrafted too?

Bearmeat's picture

Brian, this is a bad draft for OLB types. Perry won't make it to 28.

Actually I don't think any of the top 3 OLB's will. I'd intrigued by the UNC guy - but he'll be gone too.

IMO TT goes DL value at 28 and again in rd 2 or 3.

Brian Carriveau's picture

It's a terrible draft for tight ends. Doesn't mean they're going to get overdrafted.

pkrNboro's picture

wikipedia says he's 250 says he's 270.

OK, so he's packed on a few pounds -- but it can take time adapting his game to the extra weight.

IMO that is still small for a 3-4 DE -- I want a DE that's 6'5" and 305.

He doesn't seem amenable to playing LB and if he's "unsure" then I think if I was GB I'd be beyond unsure...

as I look at strengths and weaknesses on the combine page, it seems like one counters the other -- and this is a 1st round pick ????

BubbaOne's picture

Everything including his own words indicates he's a 4-3 DE. Would rather have Cox or Gilmore at 28. Not sure yet if any of the following; Shea McClellin, Ronnell Lewis, Whitney Mercilus, Bruce Irvin, Jonathon Massaquoi, or Cam Johnson will rate being taken at 28 so TT could trade back and still get his OLB from this group.

If Wash doesn't get there QB in FA or in the 1st round they may trade their 39th and 70th picks to get back into round 1 for Tannehill. It would cost the Packers their 1st, 4th, and 5th round picks. TT would now have picks 39, 60, 70, and 92.

Patric's picture

Might be out of context but those comments make me not want to draft him.... "As long as i'm rushing the passer" yes that's what we WANT you to do but you have to be able to drop back too... you don't get picked 28th to be a one-trick pony.

FITZCORE1252's picture

He better fucking get "sure". Kevin and Clay will make him see the light.


pkrNboro's picture

at least with the new CBA, he's relatively cheap.

but still... my thoughts from Mar 1st (see above) still apply.

I was on the live chat for awhile, but then it goes to shit -- I had echoed a comment from someone that he didn't look excited when selected. I also asked do we slim him down, or beef him up?

there wasn't much to choose -- NYG had a weird pick -- but whadda ya do with the square-peg-round-hole we got now??

Bearmeat's picture

It seems Shea would have been a better fit in GB and Nick in CHI....

He's a workout beast, that's for sure. But I worry about that blurb about "change of direction difficulties"

We've got a bunch of TE's/RB's in the division who are serious weapons. He has to be able to cover AND rush.

Woodson4president's picture

I wanted hightower or shae, but Perry has the speed size and strength to be great once kevin shows him the ropes!

pkrNboro's picture

Have we gotten to a point where we really don't play a 3-4 any more?

I know I've heard McCarthy/Capers talk about playing it more, but with the game changing maybe we put 4 on the DL and 5 in the secondary, as a base defense.

In which case, Perry can put his precious hand in the dirt and do what he wants.

With two linebackers (assuming CM3 is on the line), would that favor a combo of Bishop/Lattimore/Smith more so than Hawk/Walden??

Woodson4president's picture

Bishop Smith n Hawk are the best Lbs we got minus clay, but i think it was a better idea to get a DL, if and only if, Ted would man the hell up...and get Upshaw or the beast that is Mr. Curry!!!

pkrNboro's picture

poor Cow...
...c'mon out and talk to us -- we'll get through this...

New cow smell's picture

Even my kids are upset.

Who wrote the article a couple weeks back about the Packers and the idea of them moving towards a hybrid 3/4-4/3 type defense?

Sure sounds/looks like Perry would be a good candidate for the 4/3 side.

bmglines's picture

I have a few thoughts on Perry so far..

It seems TT was not feeling positive about any value that could have been available in a trade up type situation. The picks were there, 12 total, he could have easily thrown a few around to jump and pick a hightower or mercilus *sp*, but it is clear he didn't think those guys had enough juice for that kind of squeeze. He is clearly waiting for the later, more thrifty rounds to build.

"Draft and Develop" is the Thompson way, and I believe this pick has the potential to turn into a prime example of it. Perry is a USC guy, like #52, and from the few comments I have seen about his attitude so far, he feels like a great fit in the LB crew. Greene and Matthews will be a great fit for Perry; developing him into the Lebeau, Capers, Greene, Matthews "kinda guy."

So in the end, I am content and feeling positive about the entire decision made today by the Packers. There could have been some excitement about a slick deal pulled by Ted grabbing a bigger name. Or he could have added more picks and left the limelight to the Lucks. Instead, Thompson picked a kid that can be developed into another extension of Kevin Greene, the eventual Defensive Coordinator of the Green Bay Packers.

murphy's picture

Agree. Who knows what Perry will do this year...but in 2-3?

Getting Shea or even better might have been more instant gratification, but I can live with Perry this year, with high hopes for next year.

What are the chances that TT makes a move up for a guy like Upshaw now that he's slipped to the 2nd round?

Woodson4president's picture

I hear ya man. He definitely has potential. Another Lb or Dl, a rb, and a safety would definitely be my next needs that i would address. Not a single chance of us replacing Nick though.

Tom Sapp's picture

That's why I'd like to TT trade say our 3rd for a young safety. There's not any in the draft and you fill a need.

Pack66's picture

Once again, TT screws the pooch by selecting another LB....which is not the greatest need...

Do you think this guy has a "hard-on" for LB'ers since he was one in his day?

I think Thompson doesn't know what the **** he's doing..How many LB'ers did TT draft in his tenure? I know some didn't make it.

The one thing that Thompson is decent at is drafting WR's....but, as time goes on, the law of diminishing returns will start to rear it's ugly head....

Don't expect the Pack to go anywhere this year....

You can put it in the book!

bmglines's picture

3 NFC Championships in what 6 full years? I don't think he sucks at all. Clearly edge pass rush was the biggest concern and Perry seems like best fit at the 28th pick. I think you're a little off, but I do love the enthusiasm.

From one ever-pessimistic Packer fan to another,


dude's picture

I had Perry going in the 15-20 range, so for him to be available for the Packers to take made me happy.

Time will tell if this was a great pick. He has a coaching staff that will help him develop to his fullest potential.

Now they need to get a DE (I am hoping for Reyes, Wynn, or Wolfe in the 2nd round), a S (due to the weak S class, they need to draft a CB and convert them to S like DeQuan Menzie, Shaun Prater, or Donnie Fletcher), a QB (Wilson or Harnish), and then best available player for the later rounds.

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