2012 April : Packers Insider

Packers like Worthy’s Explosiveness

April 28, 2012 by  
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By Michael Spotford, Packers.com

~On Thursday, the Packers addressed their pass rush on the outside. On Friday, they hope to have done so on the inside.

By trading up eight spots, from the 59th pick to the 51st in the second round, the Packers took Michigan State defensive lineman Jerel Worthy to play end in Dom Capers’ 3-4 scheme – a dual job that defends the run on early downs and rushes the quarterback from an interior spot on passing downs.

Jerel Worthy, #99 of the Michigan State Spartans, celebrates a defensive play against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field on October 23, 2010 in Evanston, Illinois. Michigan State defeated Northwestern 35-27.

At 6-2, 308, Worthy has the type of big body defensive line coaches like Mike Trgovac covet. He’s got the size to hold the point against the run and the agility to get into the backfield when he’s “turned loose,” to use Trgovac’s words.

“He’s got some quickness to him for a big guy,” Trgovac said. “He anticipates the snap count very well. Sometimes he gets offsides, I realize that and we’ll work on that, but some coaches say if you’re not offsides a couple times, you’re not getting off the ball quick enough.”

Worthy started 38 games at defensive tackle over three seasons at Michigan State. He recorded 12 career sacks and 27½ tackles for loss.

He was named first-team All-America by several publications last season, including The Associated Press, becoming the first Spartans defensive lineman to earn that AP honor since “Bubba” Smith in 1966.

If Worthy has half the career Smith had, the Packers will have gotten a second-round steal. He cost the Packers a fourth-round pick, as No. 123 overall was sent to the Eagles, to move up to get him.

Thought by some draft analysts to be a first-round choice, Worthy was one of the highly regarded defensive lineman still there midway through the second round, along with Connecticut’s Kendall Reyes and Penn State’s Devon Still.

Worthy's play and #99 reminds many of Warren Sapp as they both can be very disruptive exploding through the line and making the QB feel very uncomfortable, if not pain.

When Reyes was snapped up at pick 49, the Packers made their move for Worthy. Still then went two picks later at 53.

“It was very close between those two,” Trgovac said of Worthy and Still. “We just thought at the end that Jerel had a little bit more wiggle and get-off than Still. That one was debated very long and hard. That wasn’t a slam dunk. We liked both of those kids.”

What kept standing out about Worthy on all the game tapes was his quickness off the ball.

“He can jump the count and get into the gap before an offensive guy can react or move,” said Shaun Herock, the Packers’ assistant director of college scouting. “As soon as you get in the gap, you’ve got a two-way go and you’re clogging up the holes, getting penetration and causing chaos in the backfield.”

The knock on Worthy was he didn’t play like that – utilizing his explosiveness to its fullest – all the time. Herock defended him in that regard because it’s natural for big bodies to wear down at times. Worthy defended himself as well.

“If people criticize that I take a play off here and there … there’s nobody in the NFL game today or in college or all the way down to pee wee who plays every play full speed, full-go without getting tired,” Worthy said. “It’s impossible.

“I’m going to continue to work to be a lot more consistent. That’s my goal. The plays that showed up on the highlight tape in the draft are the same plays I want to make in the NFL.”

Worthy admitted to being “humbled” a bit that he wasn’t drafted in the first round, but it did mean something that the Packers traded up to get him.

“Definitely,” he said. “It just shows they have faith in my potential and they have faith in the skills that I possess. They have faith in me progressing as a great football player.

“I want to come in and have an impact right away. I want to leave my mark and let them know they have no regrets about picking me.”

Story found here

Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt

April 27, 2012 by  
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2012 NFL Draft: Vanderbilt University Cornerback Casey Hayward Will Shine

~By Scott Bischoff, Bleacher Report

~Casey Hayward is a play making cornerback from Vanderbilt University. At the combine in February, he measured in at 5’ 11-3/8” and 192 pounds. Hayward is a ball hawk who had six interceptions as a junior and seven as a senior. He is a player that can be extremely valuable at the corner position in the NFL.

I talked to Hayward after his pro day workout about his time at college and his future in the NFL. We talked about the SEC and the challenges that playing in the SEC presented for a cornerback.

“It was great to play in the SEC, to get to go against the top competition every week. You are going get to go against a potential national championship winner.”

He went on to tell me some of the names he faced playing in the SEC.

“It’s just some of the top guys, like, that’s in the NFL right now. I went against A. J. Green, Alshon Jeffery, Reuben Randle, Mike Wallace. I went against a lot of the top guys that [are] in the NFL right now. So I just feel like it gives you a slight edge when it comes to NFL.”

We talked about playing at Vanderbilt as opposed to being a cornerback at LSU or Alabama. He told me that LSU could have four secondary members drafted this year along with the guys that they have up front. He told me that he didn’t have any of that at Vanderbilt, but was just as productive [as], if not more than, any other cornerback from the SEC.

“They’re going to put a lot of pressure on quarterbacks to throw the ball to them, even though I still have more interceptions than all of them.”

He told me that some other programs had guys that were products of a system or their environment. He also told me that the perception that a kid was better because he went to LSU or Alabama was wrong.

“So I just feel like if you haven’t watched me play, I think you couldn’t really put judgment on where you think I am if you haven’t really watched me play.”

I asked him about the combine and what the process was like for him this year.

“It’s a zoo. I kind of enjoyed the process because, you know, everybody [doesn’t] get to go through the process and I was one of the lucky guys that [got] to go through the process, so I just, I don’t think you can just say ah, man, I dread it.

“But I think I enjoyed the process, but I think I just wanted to get teams to know me as a person and to prove people wrong about my speed.”

Hayward is a zone corner, a player who is at his best when he can sit back in space and read and react to jump routes.

“If you were to set me back in zone and let me see what the quarterback is doing, you are going to see me making a lot of plays.”

He was quick to tell me that he could play in any scheme and that he felt he could help any scheme out.

When we talked about scheme, we talked about some players in the NFL that fit the way he played. He told me that if you mixed Asante Samuel and Brent Grimes together you would get him.

We talked about what it meant to him to be a professional football player and I asked him what he could offer to NFL teams.

“I feel like I can bring play-making ability, somebody that's going to compete, somebody that's going be able to come in and help them right then. I feel like I'm one of the top corners in this draft and I feel like I'm going be a steal wherever I go.”

We talked about his size and some of the things he has shown on film that would be considered advantages for him.

I feel like a lot of people don’t give me the recognition I should get, but that’s alright and I feel like teams watching a lot of film, they get to see me making a lot of plays, being very productive.”

We talked about where he could go in the draft and how high it could be. He told me he felt that teams had him ranked higher than people that didn’t actually watch him play did.

I asked him what he wanted the fans of the team that drafts him to know.

“I’d just tell them be ready for somebody that’s going to bring a lot of excitement to the team, somebody that’s going to make a lot of plays for them, somebody that’s going [to] even the score for them.”

“I just feel like I’m just going bring an edge to a team that needs a playmaker. If you need a playmaker, I think I’m that guy.”

Casey Hayward is a very good football player, a player that is going to make a difference for a team very quickly. He has played under intense pressure his entire college career and has been very productive.

He is the kind of player that can come in and make big plays for a defense in a priority position in today’s NFL.

Thompson makes his move: DE Jerel Worthy

April 27, 2012 by  
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By Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider.com senior analyst

~Ted Thompson turned back the clock to 2009 and made some aggressive moves to trade up to bolster his 3-4 defense.

Thompson traded his own 2nd round pick and his 4th round pick to move up to the 51 spot to select the Warren Sapp-clone, Jerel Worthy from Michigan State. 

Jerel Worthy may make fans forget about Cullen Jenkins. Or at least forget about that guy from Purdue who was supposed to replace Jenkins.

Many people thought Worthy was worth a late 1st round pick, and I had him to Green Bay in my April 19th mock draft as one of my sources told me that the Packers were very high on Worthy. They were correct, and when he slid to that point, the Packers felt like this was a move they had to make.

To come away with OLB Nick Perry, and DE Jerel Worthy may prove to be as important as the 1-2 duo from the 2009 Draft, BJ Raji and Clay Matthews. Both guys were clearly worthy of being taken in the first round, and the Packers got them both. It’s reminiscent of the Raji & Matthews daily double.

Worthy is 6-2 1/2, 305, and very quick. He took over the game against the Badgers at key times.

Here’s the lay-down on Worthy from Sports Illustrated:

Biography: Three-year starter awarded All-American and all-conference honors last season with totals of 38 tackles/10.5 tackles for loss/3 sacks. Sophomore totals included 40/8/4.

Positives: Nice-sized defensive lineman who can be a disruptive force up the field. Explosive, displays tremendous first-step quickness and gets a lot of momentum going. Fires through the open gaps of the offensive line, keeps his feet moving on contact and consistently doubled by opponents. Stays on his feet, tough to knock off the point and has the ability change directionor redirect to ball-carriers. Quick in all aspects of the game, displays a burst of closing speed and has enough power to bull rush blockers off the line.

Negatives: Marginal skills rushing the passer. Gets lazy with his fundamentals. Slow getting his hands up and plays tall, which makes him an easy target for opponents. Neutralized by a single blocker all too often.

Analysis: When on his game Worthy is an unstoppable force who collapses the pocket or occupies blockers, which allows his teammates to make plays. He comes with a terrific amount of upside, and if he’s able to concentrate on the details of his position, Worthy will be a productive starter at the next level.

Full report here

The Shutdown 50 — #25: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State

April 27, 2012 by  
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By By Mike Tanier, Shutdown Corner

~With the 2011 NFL season in the books, it’s time to turn our eyes to the NFL draft, and the pre-draft evaluation process. Before and after the 2012 scouting combine, we’ll be taking a closer look at the 50 draft-eligible players who may be the biggest NFL difference-makers when all is said and done.

We continue this year’s series with Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy. Worthy entered the combine as a sure-fire first-round pick, but funny things can happen in Indy. Worthy had an unimpressive set of workouts: He slipped and fell during a balance drill and performed other drills as if he was too busy keeping the instructions straight to cut crisply or hit pads with authority. While Worthy (who admitted he was nervous) struggled, fellow linemen like Dontari Poe put up eye-popping numbers. Slipping behind one or two players at your position is a great way to slip out of the first round.

Can a couple of minutes in shorts really erase three seasons of game tape? Not quite: Worthy’s ability to penetrate the interior defensive line makes him one of the most intriguing tackle prospects in the draft, even if he did look mixed up while running around Lucas Oil Stadium in compression wear. The bigger question is whether Worthy’s hot-and-cold production will heat up in the pros, or if the combine was indicative of his limitations as a player.

Pros: The first thing that leaps off the tape about Worthy is his snap anticipation. It is not just first-step quickness — he is quick, but Fletcher Cox and others are quicker — it is his ability to start moving forward a fraction of a second before the snap. He leans, he twitches, and he sometimes appears to have his hand in the neutral zone, but he rarely gets flagged for jumping offside. Freeze a replay at the snap, and he is about two feet forward while everyone else on the field is still set.

Jerel Worthy has been compared to Warren Sapp, John Randle, or here Keith Millard. Any of those three will do for the Packers.

Older fans may remember Keith Millard of the Vikings, who always seemed to know the snap count. Worthy’s anticipation reminds me of Millard.

Obviously, a defensive tackle who can beat the ball into the backfield is going to blow up some plays, and Worthy has tackled a few quarterbacks in the act of handing off. More often, he has his blocker turned sideways before the play develops, disrupting the entire interior line. Once he has the edge on his blocker, Worthy does a good job ripping away. Opponents used fullbacks as extra pass protectors in the interior against Michigan State, but Worthy easily tosses smaller blockers to the ground.

Worthy is a thick, low-center-of-gravity defender (translation: huge butt) who can get leverage on his blocker and shove him backward when he does not win the first-step battle.

Cons: Worthy draws a lot of double teams, and he often gets blown backward against two blockers. All of that extra attention takes its toll, and Worthy looks gassed at the ends of some games. It is hard to hold that against him — you try battling two Georgia offensive linemen through multiple overtimes — but Worthy will have to improve his conditioning in the pros.

Worthy’s “jump the snap” routine does lead to some penalties. Watching where he lines up, it is shocking that he does not get called for neutral zone infractions constantly. NFL referees may not be so forgiving.

Worthy is strictly an in-the-box defender. He will not make many plays down the line of scrimmage, and something has gone very wrong if he is chasing a ball carrier down from behind. His low career sack total (12 in three seasons as a starter) reflects his inability to close on quarterbacks.

Conclusion: Worthy’s lackluster workout results underline just how enigmatic he is as a prospect. His greatest attribute, besides brute strength, is something that cannot be easily showcased in a drill. It is also something that could get penalized away if NFL referees don’t give him any benefit of the doubt.

The upside for Worthy is Millard, who had 58 sacks in eight seasons in the 1980s, but that is a very ambitious comparison. Worthy needs to gain stamina without losing his initial quickness, and he must show that he can stand up two linemen on a consistent basis. He will probably be a “wave” player at the start of his career, playing nose tackle on passing downs or three-tech tackle as part of a second platoon, and he can be effective in that kind of 25-snap role. Any team that drafts him in an early round will expect much more, but they will have to be patient.

NFL Comparison: Corey Peters, Atlanta Falcons

Full story here

USC’s Perry expected to get to quarterbacks

April 27, 2012 by  
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By Bob McGinn, Journal-Sentinel

~Green Bay – When push came to shove Thursday night, the Green Bay Packers went with the pass-rushing linebacker over the pass-rushing defensive end.

Their choice with the 28th selection in the first round of the National Football League draft was Nick Perry, a defensive end in a 4-3 defense at Southern California who will play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense for the Packers.

“Tremendous physical specimen,” general manager Ted Thompson said. “He’s 270 pounds and runs 4.5. At the end of the day, we felt this would be a very good addition.  

"The basis of our defense starts with being able to threaten offenses from both sides," said Capers. "You see us do a lot of things with our inside linebackers. A lot of their success is based on the type of threats you have on the outside."

 He’s a physical guy, can set the edge and can rush the passer.”

Perry, 6 feet 2½ inches and 270 pounds, will be given every opportunity to start opposite Clay Matthews. Perry was a redshirt freshman at USC in 2008 when Matthews was a senior.

When Green Bay made the pick, the pool of remaining outside linebackers included Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw, who did play in a 3-4, and Clemson’s Andre Branch and Marshall’s Vinny Curry, both of whom played primarily at end in 4-3 defenses and would have faced the same conversion that Perry will.

“There will be a transition,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “He has played with his hand down more than he has standing up. But that’s not uncommon for us in this defense. The first thing we look for is a guy’s ability to rush the passer.”

The Packers ranked 32nd in sack percentage last season after ranking third in 2010 when they won the Super Bowl. Erik Walden played most of the season at the right outside position, but Frank Zombo, Brad Jones, Jamari Lattimore and Vic So’oto all saw time, too.

Those five players remain under contract, but none of them can hold a candle to Perry in terms of sheer speed and athletic ability.

“In our Super Bowl year we rushed the quarterback as well as anybody in the league,” Capers said. “Last year we weren’t pleased really with either area (rush or coverage).

“We’re looking to get back to work and get back to pressuring the quarterback like we did a couple years ago.”  

USC's Nick Perry chases Stanford's Andrew Luck out of the pocket.

When the three elite cornerbacks were taken by the 17th pick, the Packers had no chance to address their need there.

The release of Nick Collins Wednesday leaves the Packers deficient at safety, but they decided not to pick Notre Dame’s Harrison Smith, who went on the 29th pick to Minnesota.

Green Bay’s other dominant need on defense was defensive end, where Ryan Pickett is aging and players such as Jarius Wynn, C.J. Wilson and Mike Neal have been mediocre performers, at best.

By the 28th pick, the cluster of defensive ends included Penn State’s Devon Still and Connecticut’s Kendall Reyes.

At the same time, guard-tackle Cordy Glenn of Georgia and center Peter Konz of Wisconsin certainly would have been of interest.

More than likely, however, the choice came down to Perry against Still and Reyes.

“We had a number of players at different positions that were rated about the same,” Thompson said, referring to when the Packers were on the clock. “We felt like that was the right pick to make at the time.”

Was the pick borne of need?

“No, not need,” he said. “Just the right pick for our team right now.”

Perry, a native of Detroit, is a fourth-year junior who started 22 of 37 games at strong-side end. He finished with 103 tackles (29½ for loss), 21½ sacks and five forced fumbles.

Although Perry almost never played from a two-point stance, Thompson said there was evidence of it on tape when he did move around.

The key in the evaluation process when scouts try to determine if a collegiate end can become an NFL linebacker occurs in the position drills at the combine. It’s a highly subjective and critical decision, and Thompson expressed no doubt about Perry’s capacity to adjust.

“I thought he’d be OK at it,” said Thompson. “We’ll figure out a way to play him.”

Both Thompson and Capers were more than just impressed by Perry’s superlative workout numbers. He ran 40 yards in 4.58 seconds, his vertical jump was 38½ inches, his broad jump was 10-4 and he bench-pressed 225 pounds 35 times.

The only hybrid player in the draft with a faster 40 than Perry was West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin, who ran 4.45 at 246 pounds.

In 2009, Matthews (6-3, 245) ran 4.61, had jumps of 35½ and 10-1, and did 23 reps on the bench.

“We think he has the speed to come off the corner,” said Capers. “We think he can convert speed to power and rush the passer.

“We’ve seen him be very physical on linemen and tight ends with his hand down. He’s got good hip flexibility. ”

Whereas Matthews scored 27 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test, Perry tallied 29.

“Yes, he’s very sharp,” Thompson said. “Very good person. Alonzo (Highsmith, a Green Bay area scout) was the group leader in his group at the combine and said he was very genuine, very good with other players, that sort of thing.”

Thompson said the Packers had normal trade talks to go up and down in the trade. When the Packers’ pick arrived, he described it as a united room.

“We discussed other players,” he said. “Everybody felt good about the way we went. It was pretty much done by then and it was, ‘Here’s our guy.'”

In 2008, the Trojans switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 to accommodate their four outstanding linebackers. They moved back to a 4-3 during Perry’s two years as a starter. Perry played on both sides.

“I’m not going to compare them,” said Thompson. “They’re on the same team now. I don’t think you can compare a guy coming into the league with a guy like Clay Matthews. I don’t think that’s fair. For either one of the fellas.”

Full story here

What scouts told McGinn about Nick Perry

April 27, 2012 by  
Filed under News

Remember, scouts are often wrong, more often than not. And scouts don’t all think alike. Some thought Tom Brady wasn’t worthy of being drafted. The Patriots scout thought he was worthy of the 199th pick in his draft.
Most scouts didn’t think Arian Foster, Kurt Warner, or James Harrison were worthy of being drafted. Most scouts told us Jamarcus Russell, Curtis Enis, Jamal Reynolds, and Charles Rogers were going to be franchise cornerstones. 

~From Bob McGinn, Journal-Sentinel

~NICK PERRY, OLB, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

What NFL scouts told Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel about outside linebacker Nick Perry, the Green Bay Packers’ first-round selection:

That's holding, ref!

AFC scout: “He’s got great potential. He could play anything he wants. He played during the year at 250 some and at the combine, I thought he was nuts, he was 271. He still ran in the 4.5s. He’s explosive.”

AFC scout: “Very steady. Complete player. Can handle the run well. He’s a very good pass rusher. Not like the (Dwight) Freeney type. Solid. He needs to be respected. He’s not as explosive as Clay Matthews. He’d probably be a little stronger against the run as an end.”

AFC scout: “He’s the kid from Ohio State (Vernon Gholston). Buyer beware there. He’s a good athlete that, let’s just say, is a little soft.”

NFC scout: “His motor is OK. Hot and cold a little bit. He’s a talented guy. He will go high.”

Rick Reiprish, New Orleans: “I think he’s a 4-3 guy. That suits him better.”

NFC scout: “Workout guy who doesn’t play good.”

AFC scout: "He can stand up. I'm not sure about anything, but he's got a better chance than (Courtney) Upshaw

NFC scout: “He’s a little bit like (Andre) Branch. He’s scheme versatile. He’s got some pop in his body, that explosiveness that you look for. Yet, you didn’t see him rush all the time at SC. He’s got a lot of potential as a rusher. He’s got the size, speed and athleticism to play outside backer. If you’re betting on the up side with any of these players, this would be the guy to do it with. From what I know, he’s an OK kid. No huge red flags.”

AFC scout: “I think he will be standing up in a 3-4. He’s an NFL talent because of what’s going on these days. You’ve got those hybrid type guys. He’s a good player. He’s not as sudden and quick as some of the top-level guys, but he’s that next tier down.”

AFC scout: “He’s an excellent workout guy. He’s probably a second-round pick, without a doubt.”

AFC scout: “It’s close, but he can do the 3-4. I don’t like him, but I’m in the minority.”

NFC scout: “He’s talented, but you can’t depend on him. I think Perry could do whatever he wanted to do but he doesn’t do it on a consistent basis. He’s talented enough to stand up, sure.”

NFC scout: “I think the 4-3 is his best fit. He might have a little better chance to reduce down and be an outside backer in a 3-4.”

AFC scout: “Good player. He wore out Stanford’s junior left tackle (Jonathan Martin). He played both down and up. Basically down. He and Clay Matthews didn’t play the same way. Matthews played off the line. This guys plays down on the line. He’s tall and linear built. Yeah, he can rush the passer. First round. I like him.”

AFC scout: “He can stand up. I’m not sure about anything, but he’s got a better chance than (Courtney) Upshaw.”

NFC scout: “He can play up, but he’s growing himself into a 4-3 guy. He’s 258 when I saw him play UCLA. He’s not very smart but a hell of a kid and he’s strong as hell. If he had stayed another year he’d probably have been a late first-round pick next year. He is probably first round this year for a 4-3 team.”

NFC scout: “Totally different cat than Clay Matthews. He’s an undersized D-end. He’s not as powerful as Trent Cole. He tries to finesse his way around guys. He’s an average pass rusher. Second round.”

Full story found here

More on Nick Perry

April 26, 2012 by  
Filed under News

By Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider.com senior editor

~Ted Thompson has given defensive coordinator Dom Capers a talented toy to play with at OLB opposite Clay Matthews, and OLB coach Kevin Greene is licking his chops.

Thompson: Perry was impressive at the Combine

Nobody knows if Perry will turn out more like Brian Orakpo, LaMarr Woodley, Shawne Merriman, Anthony Spencer, or Vernon Gholston. But here are some physical comparions from each’s combine.

Nick Perry
6-2 3/4, 271
40- 4.64
20- X
10- 1.57
Vertical- 38.5
225-reps- 35

Brian Orakpo
6-3, 263
40- 4.63
20- 2.60
10- 1.56
Vertical- 39.5
225-reps- 31

Shawne Merriman
6-4, 272
40- 4.64
20- X
10- X
Vertical- 40
225-reps- 25

Lamarr Woodley
6-1 1/2, 266
40- 4.74
20- 2.72
10- 1.65
Vertical- 38.5
225-reps- 29

Vernon Gholston
6-3, 266
40- 4.65
20- 2.65
10- 1.53
Vertical- 35.5
225-reps- 37

Anthony Spencer
6-3, 261
40- 4.70
20- 2.74
10- 1.64
Vertical- 32.5
225-reps- 30

Here are some more comments from verious Draft Internet guys:

04/27/12 – 2012 NFL DRAFT: PICK-BY-PICK ANALYSIS: 28. Green Bay Packers: OLB Nick Perry, Southern Cal — Perry is one of the best all-around athletes in the draft. If he hones those skills and polishes his pass-rush technique, he could become the sackmaster the Packers need opposite Clay Matthews. – Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
04/26/12 – ROB RANG’S TOP 50 PLAYERS OF THE 2012 NFL DRAFT: 28. Nick Perry, DE, Southern Cal*: As had been anticipated, Perry enjoyed one of the Combine’s most impressive all-around performances showing speed (4.64), strength (35 reps) and explosiveness (38.5″). He led the Pac-12 with 9.5 sacks in 2011 and may just be scratching the surface of his potential. – Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com
03/16/12 – NFL Draft Scout Top Edge Players, OLB/DE: *Nick Perry, DE/OLB, Southern California, 6-3, 271, 1-2…Perry opted for the draft after being named USC’s Defensive Lineman of the Year following a 2011 season in which he led the Pac-12 in sacks with 9.5. Considered a ‘tweener who could be an outside linebacker or defensive end, Perry wants to play the latter. So he added more than 10 pounds of lean muscle since the season ended to convince scouts. Still, many believe he projects as a stand-up linebacker in a 3-4 defense, despite not showing instincts to play in the open. His natural athleticism was on display at the combine, where he had an unofficial 10-yard time of 1.57 seconds and showed tremendous explosion with a 38.5-inch vertical jump, a mark worthy of a good wide receiver. Scouts would also like to see more hustle on plays away and/or better conditioning, as he seems to fatigue in the fourth quarter. Perry was a prized recruit after he led Detroit’s King High School to a 14-0 season and a 2007 state championship with 147 tackles and 36 sacks, a Michigan prep record. – Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange/NFLDraftScout.com
03/08/12 – USC Pro Day: Perry, who weighed 270 pounds, said he “could have done better” on some of his position drills but was pleased overall, especially combined with his combine results. He is projected to be a first-round pick. “I get asked a lot by NFL teams about certain schemes because everyone wants to know if I can also play in a 3-4 (defense),” Perry said. “It’s good to be in the conversation (for the first round).” – NFLDraftScout.com
02/25/12 – Michigan native Perry wasn’t an unknown out of high school. He was a blue-chip, five-star recruit who spurned the Wolverines when Lloyd Carr was fired and joined Pete Carroll at Southern Cal. Perry was a freshman All-American in 2009 after leading the team in sacks (8.0) as a backup. And became a starter as a sophomore and had his best season in 2011 as a junior, leading the Pac-12 with 9.5 sacks before leaving school early. Despite standing at just 6-2, Perry offers an impressive blend of speed and strength at 271 pounds, adding over 20 pounds of muscle in the last six months. He lined up at defensive end his entire career, but teams that employ the 3-4 formation have also taken a liking to the former Trojan. Perry has the versatile skill-set to stand up as a rush linebacker, but he enjoys his more natural position on the line. “I can handle both, but I prefer 4-3,” said Perry when asked about playing in either formation. “I’d like to keep my hand in the dirt, but as long as I’m rushing and getting to the quarterback, I’m fine with whatever it is.” There are differing views on Perry’s best position fit at the next level, but most agree he’s capable of filling either role depending on the scheme. Some prospects encourage the switch to standing up in space to get more freedom. But other pass rushers hope to keep their hand on the ground where they feel most comfortable. “I’ve been playing defensive end for a long time now and I have experience at that,” Perry said. “So I think being put further away from what you’re used to doing makes it a little uneasy.” – Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com
02/23/12 – NFL DRAFT SCOUT PRE-COMBINE TOP 64: 28. *Nick Perry, DE, Southern Cal, 6-3, 250, 1-2…Although it is unclear exactly what position he will play at the next level, Perry opted for the draft after being named USC’s Defensive Lineman of the Year following a 2011 season in which he led the Pac-12 in sacks with 9.5. That was the most sacks by a USC defender since 2007. Most scouts believe he projects as a stand-up linebacker in a 3-4 defense, despite not showing instincts to play in the open.

Packers select USC’s Nick Perry

April 26, 2012 by  
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By Tyler Dunne, Journal-Sentinel

~Green Bay — A pair of USC Trojans may anchor the Green Bay Packers pass rush. With the 28th overall pick, the Packers took Nick Perry.

Perry made waves at the NFL scouting combine and showed an elite burst off the edge in college. Now, he’ll get a chance to be the Packers’ right outside linebacker. His senior year, Perry finished with 54 tackles, 9 1/2 sacks and 13 tackles for loss.

“I don’t think there are many guys his size who run a 4.5 with a 38 1/2-inch vertical jump,” Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “So he has explosive ability.” 

GM Ted Thompson gave Dom Capers and Kevin Greene a talented toy to play with to go after QBs, to match with Clay Matthews

As noted here, Perry had success against top competition, including Stanford’s Jonathan Martin. His natural bend around the edge appeals to teams and should be a major asset to Green Bay’s sagging pass rush. A year ago, Green Bay finished 27th in sacks. The defense auditioned several players at the position throughout the year but never found an answer.

In Perry, maybe the Packers will be able to apply pressure from both sides. The 6-foot-2, 271-pounder admitted at the Combine that he was more comfortable as a defensive end. With good coaching, the Packers must feel confident they can help him adjust to linebacker. He flashed rare athleticism in Indianapolis. Perry ran the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds, benched 225 pounds 35 times and had a 38.5″ vertical leap. No other 3-4 prospect had such a complete showing.

In comparison to other pass rushers in the draft, Perry made more big plays. In addition to his 9.5 sacks, he also had three forced fumbles. A month ago, we took a look at his game here.

“You always hope that through competition that guy will surface,” Capers said. “Nick will come in and we’ll throw him right into the competition of things and we’ll see what he can do. …We think he has the potential to do that and be that guy we want on the edge.”

The Packers had to be sweating the pick out. Beginning with West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin at No. 14 overall, a run of pass rushers began. Green Bay’s division rival, Chicago, scooped up Boise State’s Shea McClellin at No. 18. But Perry and Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw both slipped all the way to the Packers and general manager Ted Thompson had to make a decision. 

Just as he did in 2009 with Matthews, Thompson turned to Southern California for a pass rusher. Maybe Perry gives the Packers the lift they need defensively.

Packers select Nick Perry, USC OLB/DE

April 26, 2012 by  
Filed under News

By Pete Dougherty, Green Bay Press-Gazette

~Even with pass rushers falling off the board in a flurry late in the first round of the NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers were able to address that glaring need Thursday night.

With USC’s Nick Perry and Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw on the board at No. 28 overall, the Packers went for Perry, who figures to start immediately at right outside linebacker, opposite former USC teammate Clay Matthews on the left side. 

Southern California's Nick Perry poses for photographs with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected 28th overall by the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the NFL football draft Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York. / Jason DeCrow/AP

The Packers went into this draft badly needing a pass rusher for a defense that finished No. 32 in the NFL in sacks percentage last season, and this draft was relatively light for 3-4 outside linebackers who figured to go later in the first round. When Seattle pulled a shocker by drafting West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin at No. 15 overall — he was maybe the draft’s most explosive speed rusher, but he also is regarded as a one-dimensional player and many teams concerned him a serious off-the-field character risk — it helped push other rushers down the board. 

After Irvin, they started going fast: South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram (San Diego, No. 19), Boise State’s Shea McClellin (Chicago, No. 19), Syracuse’s Chandler Jones (New England, No. 21), Alabama’s Dont’a Hightower (New England, No. 25) and Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus (Houston, No. 26). 

That left Perry and Upshaw on the board for the Packers, and the Packers went for the speed-oriented Perry rather than the power-oriented Upshaw. Perry is 6-foot-2¾, 271 pounds and ran the 40 in 4.59 seconds; Upshaw was 6-1 5/8, 272 (almost 280 at his campus workout) and ran the 40 in a reported 4.81 seconds. Many scouts questioned whether Upshaw was quick and fast enough to handle the coverage responsibilities of a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL even though he played that position and was at times a dominating player in college. 

Several scouts interviewed earlier this week thought the Packers were especially interested in McClellin, but if they were, he never got within striking distance and was selected by the Packers’ NFC North Division rival Chicago Bears at No. 19. 

Perry, who is entering the draft after his redshirt junior season, was a two-year starter at USC and played on passing downs the year before. He finished his career with 21½ sacks and especially impressed scouts with his average of 1.53 seconds on the 10-yard split on his two 40-yard dashes at the NFL scouting combine. That’s an exceptionally quick time and is better than Irvin’s 1.60 seconds. 

However, some teams wondered whether Perry has the lateral quickness to cover well as an outside linebacker in a 3-4. Early in his career he played the same stand-up “elephant” linebacker-defensive end hybrid position that Matthews played as a senior at USC. But when Lane Kiffin became USC’s coach, Perry became a 4-3 defensive end and didn’t play much in coverage. 

Perry’s 4.66 seconds in the short shuttle and 7.25 seconds in the three-cone drill were among the worst of the first-round outside pass rushers in this draft.

Full story here

Green Bay Packers 2012 NFL Draft Prospects: OLB/DE Nick Perry

April 26, 2012 by  
Filed under News

By Kevin McCauley, ACME Packing Company

~NFL Draft 2012

Photo I think that the coolest thing about working with SB Nation is the access to a large network of people, covering hundreds of teams across a couple dozen sports. Our network of college blogs here is absolutely fantastic, so our NFL bloggers have gotten in touch with our college bloggers to tap into their expertise on this year’s top NFL Draft prospects. 

One guy that the Green Bay Packers have been linked with in numerous mock drafts is USC Trojans defensive end Nick Perry, who could be moved to outside linebacker if he’s drafted by a team that primarily plays out of 3-4 defensive sets. Perry’s a skilled pass rusher with all of the physical tools, and he offers something that you’re going to hear a lot about in the next week: scheme-flexibility.That is this year’s draft buzzword. SPOILER ALERT: We’re also going to use it when we write about guys like Andre Branch, Fletcher Cox, Devon Still and Shea McClellin. Like a lot of teams in the NFL these days, the Packers are not going to run everything out of a typical 3-4 all of the time. They don’t use a standard 4-3 on regular occasions like, say, the New England Patriots do, but they’ll still be looking for flexible defensive players. 

The Packers’ biggest problem on defense last season was their pass rush, and if they select Perry, they’ll almost certainly get an instant improvement in that department. After the jump, we’ll get into the specifics of what Perry does and does not bring to the table, with the inside info courtesy of USC Trojans blog Conquest Chronicles.Star-divide

 Here’s exactly what Conquest Chronicles had to say about Nick Perry.

            POSITIVES:

Quick off the line…blows past blockers before they can get their hands up…good instinct at using leverage and staying balanced…has good change of direction skills…moves well to the outside to out maneuver agile pass blockers…excellent run defender…because of his speed and moves can make plays on the ball carrier from yards away…comparisons made to Freeney.

Nick Perry chases Andrew Luck out of the pocket as USC played at Stanford.

NEGATIVES:While Perry has decent push his upper body strength needs work…needs to show more hustle, sometimes takes plays off…at time shows fatigue in the 4th qtr. so conditioning will be important…has some issues when handling double teams…dissects the play well but sometimes over runs the play…at times Perry will bite on play action…mobile QB’s could be an issue.

COMBINE:

40 Yard – 4.64
Bench Press – 35 reps
Vertical Jump – 38.5-inch vertical jump
Broad Jump – 124.0 inces
3-cone Drill – 7.25 seconds

His stats, physical tools and CC’s notes tell you just about everything you need to know about his abilities as a 4-3 defensive end. At the end of the day, Perry’s best fit is probably as a DE for a 4-3 team that needs a pass rusher who is also competent in run defense. He doesn’t have experience dropping into coverage and some fear that he’s not going to be as productive standing up as he was with his hand in the dirt, but with his physical tools, he’s going to be pushed as a potential 3-4 OLB fit by a lot of analysts.

Highlights

First, a tape of his 2010 highlights. You will notice that this guy is FAST off the edge. Also, pay attention to the play 37 seconds in. He’s the right defensive end and he drops back, then steps up and makes a terrific play on the middle screen. The following play is a good one too; he looks like an outside linebacker.

Nick Perry Highlights

Nick Perry Highlights 2011

Verdict: An okay pick for the Packers, but not the best fit.Perry is a supremely talented player, but he’s probably not going to make the best switch to standing up of all of the 4-3 end/3-4 OLB tweeners in this draft. His physical tools and variety of pass rushing moves are fantastic, though, and if the Packers think that his skills will translate to OLB, I believe them. He will probably struggle in coverage to start his NFL career, and it might be defined by how well he adapts if he is moved to 3-4 OLB. He could end up a lot like Jason Babin, who was a great 4-3 DE in college that was moved to 3-4 OLB, where he was average. He’s found new life as a 9-technique for the Eagles.

Nick Perry has the strength, size, and speed to disrupt a lot of NFL QB's, getting past OT's.

I think that Perry is best suited to 4-3 defensive end in the pros, not 3-4 outside linebacker, but he has the tools to play either. Having said that, we might know quickly whether or not he’s going to be the real deal at 3-4 OLB, if the Packers pick him. If he can’t succeed under Kevin Greene on the practice field and opposite Clay Matthews on gameday, then he’s probably not going to succeed as a 3-4 OLB anywhere.

Full story, and comments, here

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