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Point of Veau: Clay and the Lump of Clay

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Point of Veau: Clay and the Lump of Clay

When the Green Bay Packers made Nick Perry their first-round draft choice, he instantly became their starter at the outside linebacker position opposite Clay Matthews despite defensive end being his position flashed to millions of television viewers at home.

Perry played end in a three-point stance at Southern California, so he faces a big transition ahead of him as he learns to play standing up in a two-point stance, playing in space and dropping into coverage.

That might seem like a risk to some, the Packers putting all their eggs in one basket hoping that a defensive end can magically transform into the next coming of DeMarcus Ware.

But for as long as the Packers have been running a 3-4 defense, they've done it before, and they'll do it again.

"Most of the guys that you take, you're going to ask them to do some things technique-wise that they haven't done a lot of," explained defensive coordinator Dom Capers on Thursday night. "There's always a little bit of a transition from that standpoint. We'll be excited to get Nick in here and get started working with him here in a couple weeks."

With relatively few college teams running 3-4 defenses, the Packers are far from the only team making a projections at the outside linebacker position. It's necessary to take college players, bring them under your wing, teach them, mold them, instruct them as to the nuances of the professional game.

From middle school to high school to college, the game of football and sports and general are interwoven into the educational system in America. And even when players reach the NFL and football is no longer part of an institution of academia, that doesn't mean the teaching stops.

It's now the job of Capers and outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene and even head coach Mike McCarthy to assist in the education of Nick Perry as an outside linebacker.

"We're looking forward to getting him with Kevin and Dom and seeing what we do," said general manager Ted Thompson. "He'll jump in with our guys and compete with our guys and see how he stacks up."

That's the only attitude you can take. As a general manager or a coach, you can only look forward and be excited to working with a young man such as Perry and embrace the journey you're about to take in aiding his education.

There's going to be some lumps along the way, no doubt about it. It's going to take some time to turn Perry into a well-rounded player that's proficient in all phases of the game whether it's rushing the passer or stuffing the run or dropping back in coverage.

Perry said back at the NFL Combine that he was most comfortable with his hand in the dirt. And while some may view that as a red flag, he was most likely being honest.

Playing in a three-point stance is––in all likelihood––pretty much all Perry has done since high school, so of course he's most comfortable playing that way. That doesn't mean he's unwilling to change.

There's something about a couple million dollars that will probably help him sway his opinion.

"It's here," said Perry Thursday evening. "I can't control it. This is something I love doing, I love playing football. I'm here to do whatever it takes to compete. Whatever I can do to help the team, I'm here for that."

One of the knocks on Perry is that his motor runs hot and cold. In addition to his newfound wealth to inspire him, he'll have Greene––the ultimate motivator––in his ear letting him know whenever he's dogging it.

And Perry will only have to look at his former USC teammate manning the other bookend outside linebacker position to see an example of where a non-stop drive and hustle can get you in the NFL.

And that's not to mention the pressure Perry will feel from a frenetic fan base to produce. It's already ingrained in him, and he hasn't even been to Lambeau Field yet.

Reporters played a word association game with Perry last evening, asking him the first thing he thinks of when he hears "Green Bay."

"Super Bowls," was Perry's response.

Perry brings to the table an almost freakish combination of strength and speed, a 4.64 40-yard dash to go along with 35 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press at the Combine. His 38.5-inch vertical jump 124-inch broad jump aren't bad either, especially when considering he weighs 271 pounds.

His agility drills leave much to be desired, however, with times of 7.25 seconds in the three-cone drill and 4.66 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle.

But Perry also brings two intangibles that appear to be in very high regard to the Packers: no character concerns and little to no injury history.

Perry will be counted upon as a complement to Matthews, and a familiar face from USC is going to only help him in his transition. Last night Perry said Matthews congratulated him on his selection and considered themselves friends.

Now that he's in the fold, the newest member of the Green Bay Packers can focus on becoming the best 3-4 outside linebacker he can be.

"I think I have the raw set skills, and I have the mind to do it," said Perry. "I think I have a lot to bring to the table. There's a lot of potential that needs to be taken out of me. I'm going to Green Bay for a great tradition that's going to help me improve my game and make me become a better player for years to come."

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (27) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

I'm apprehensive, but excited. If we can turn that big ass athlete into a big ass OLB, it's going to be a blast to watch him work.


Oppy's picture

well stated.

The nice thing is, if they CAN'T turn him into a big-ass OLB, they can probably turn him into a very good 3-4 DE, inside rush DT in nickle, or even a decent ILB.

This is why the Packers give the edge to football players over positional players.

CSS's picture

Nice sub-plot where Perry will now face his ex-
teamate Kalil 2 times a year. Someone needs to ask Perry about those Trojan practice battles and what we get to see when they battle one another twice yearly.

Brian Carriveau's picture

He was asked about that last night. If you go to you can listen to his interview.

CSS's picture

Thanks Brian. This was my first web visit for the morning ( as it should be).

Fish/crane's picture

so we must leave to learn the answer.....

Kevin's picture

I know they have said they want to play more base 3-4 this year, but I still expect them to play a lot of 4 man line + nickel as well. Even if Perry only helps there, that would be a big help to get them off the field on 3 and medium/long.

Cole's picture

Wouldnt shock me if they let him put his hand in the dirt on obvious passing downs.

jeremy's picture

It would shock me if they were not smart enough to use him the way the Ravens use Terrell Suggs at least some of the time.

Cole's picture

Dont watch the ravens often, how is Suggs used?

ppabich's picture

The Ravens have become much more of a 4-3 team the past couple years with Suggs playing DE. They use a lot of varied fronts.

PackersRS's picture

This. They play a 4-3 under with Suggs lined up in the weak side most of the time.

When Suggs was tagged, there was a big dispute with Suggs' agent claiming he should be paid like a DE because he spent most of his time as a DE, and the Ravens wanted to pay him as an OLB because he was listed as so in their depth chart.

Fish/crane's picture

One of the all time best...Suggs, is mentioned in a Perry string....I like the looks of that indeed. Indeed.

pkrNboro's picture

I'm wondering that if we truly buy into a BPA philosophy, if you don't alter your strategy to capitalize on a particular athlete. If so, then pin Perry's ears back and let him go after the QB.

Didn't the Packers play more nickel than base last season? and the year before??

With rule changes, the NFL is a "passing" league. The rise of hybrid TEs and the decline of RBs proves it. We'll likely need an extra cover guy as a permanent fixture.

Another consequence may be the advent of pass-rushing specialists. It may not be as important for Perry to drop in coverage, if he can show burst in pursuit of the QB.

Did I read where he put on a number of pounds before the combine? could this explain his slower cone scores?? I thought I saw where he weighed around 250 in the past year or so. I think it will be interesting to see just how many pounds they want on his frame, and where he plays as a result.

I just hope he has heart!

counterpoint's picture

I saw that last night too. Yes, they did say he played at 250-something last year. I wondered if the team might try and get him closer to 260 to see if it improves his quickness.

dat der Packer-backer's picture

What I really like from this kid is his attitude. Of all the videos I've seen of him, whenever he makes a big play like a sack, tackle in the backfield, batted down ball, he does a little hand clap, if anything, and goes back to the line. Business as usual, next play. I really like that.

Normthe1's picture


I really dislike individual celebrations, I'm a big fan of just getting on with it. Its a team game, it should be team first...

Oppy's picture

I know, right??!

I want to slap the living [email protected]! outta Rodgers every time he does that stupid "Belt" move.

And, I swear, if I have to see Donald Driver do that boastful "First down" arm motion followed by that little tail waggle that he does one more time? BENCH HIM AND BAN HIM FROM THE PACKERS HALL OF FAME.

Don't even get me started on the "gentlemanly handshake" or that ghastly Lambeau Leap.. It's like a bunch of low lifes out there.

For shame...For Shame!!

/end sarcasm

Ruppert's picture

I don't try to rate prospects, and consequently I don't get too excited or depressed come draft time.

I like the idea of a bigger, yet athletic complement to CM3. I like the lack of injury history. Another CM3 would be awesome, but we would certainly benefit a ton from a guy who is not necessariy that dynamic, but smart and consistent.

And come on...This guy's GOTTA be better than Walden, Zombo and Jones were last year, right? Right?!!? Just give me THAT and I'm somewhat happy...

Evan's picture

Someone said last night that at BEST Perry is a difference maker and at WORST he's an upgrade over Walden, Zombo and Jones.

I'll take that.

Paleo's picture

I think that with Dom Capers, Matthews, and Perry working together we're going to see some crazy formations and pre-snap movements. I think Greene and Matthews can keep him motivated and with his head in the game. I'm hopeful.

Woodson4president's picture

We passed up on Mauluga to get Clay and it worked out..maybe passin up Upshaw will work out the same way!

Norman's picture

What's this I hear about Matthew Perry being our new OLB? That won't work.

Chris K's picture

Think Willie McGinest

Franklin Hillside's picture

He's Lump. He's Lump. He's in my head.

BeddarCheddar's picture

I wish I could get more excited about this pick. Reading the articles here and seeing the comments posted thus far is certainly helping, but something in my gut is just not right about Perry. Maybe it's from the Draft Guide: "He...did not really reach the heights expected of someone with all the physical tools to be a dominant player. Something is not right here, so he drops a bit in the rankings." I also thought I saw something somewhere else about being stiff and a speed rusher with only one move. The really good pass rushers have a non-stop motor. Perry doesn't, from what I have read. These things make me think of Jamal Reynolds all over again. I hope I am wrong, but after McClellan came off the board, I kind of wish we would have moved down and gotten at least another pick in the 2nd.

Fish/crane's picture

I like the nicks these Packers take

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