Nick Perry, DE, USC
2011 Stats: 55 total tackles (32 solo), 9.5 sacks, three pass deflections, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
The Green Bay Packers desperately need a pass rusher to complement Clay Matthews and Nick Perry is the right man for the job. I have selected the Packers to take Perry in the first round of Rant Sports 2012 NFL Mock Draft.
Perry was a defensive end at the University of Southern California but the Packers will convert him to an outside linebacker in their 3-4 defensive scheme. Although Perry does not have much experience at this position, with Kevin Greene as his coach and Matthews as his mentor he will learn what it takes to be a dominate pass rusher in the NFL.
The 6’3”, 270-pound Perry is relentless at getting to the quarterback and has a consistent motor similar to Matthews. He also has a phenomenal first step with a quickness that every NFL pass rusher must have. He is capable of dipping his shoulder to get around offensive lineman and can use his upper body strength to plow through blockers. His good hands will be great for moving blockers as well as deflecting passes in coverage.
Perry is an excellent tackler as he led USC in total tackles in 2011. He is intelligent enough to not succumb to fakes and is strong enough to bring down playmakers on his own. Not only will Perry be a great addition to Green Bay’s pass rush but he will also be a factor in stopping the run. Like Matthews, his relentlessness will allow him to run down the play no matter where it is on the field.
Perry’s arm length and overall size are the only so-called weaknesses of his game. Most elite NFL pass rushers have a long wingspan with an overall size to push offensive lineman. However, Matthews has proven that you do not have to be big with long arms to dominate as an outside linebacker. In fact, Matthews is 6’3” with an arm length of 32 1/4-inches. Meanwhile, Perry is of the same height with an arm length of 33-inches. Green Bay is not as concerned with size as they are with the overall ability to play a position above and beyond everyone else.
The Packers struggled mightily last season getting to the quarterback after the departure of defensive end Cullen Jenkins via free agency. Green Bay was third to last in the league with a dismal 29.0 sacks after their incredible 47.0 sack season in 2010. Matthews was double and sometimes even triple teamed on plays because the offense knew no other player posed much of a threat. As much as the Packers need an interior pass rush to stop the opposing quarterback from stepping up into the pocket, having another outside rusher as great as Matthews will be just as good.
Perry and Matthews will make up the ultimate rushing tandem that will create all sorts of problems for opposing offensive coordinators. There simply will not be enough blockers to stop both of them, especially if Green Bay can acquire a good defensive lineman that is capable of attacking the quarterback.