Has the strength to anchor and hold his ground vs. the run
Physical run defender who holds the edge
Smooth fit as a 4-3 defensive end
Rushes with good leverage
Could struggle in space as a 3-4 outside linebacker
Doesn't look like natural as a 3-4 linebacker
Summary: Perry has been an evolving prospect over the past months, and really, throughout his college career. At one point, he was an undersized end who looked like a better outside linebacker prospect in the NFL. After adding 20 pounds of muscle over the past year, Perry now looks like a base end who is a good fit in a 4-3 defense. He finished the 2012 season on a tear, as he dominated the Pac-12. Perry continued his momentum with an All-Star performance at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Perry put on a show in Indianapolis with a blistering 40-yard dash time of 4.50 seconds and a 1.56 in the 10-yard split. He also did very well in the bench press, the vertical leap and the broad jump. With a strong Combine performance, Perry confirmed a first-round grade based off of his college production.
Perry broke out as freshman in 2009 with eight sacks, nine tackles for a loss and 24 tackles. His sophomore season didn't go as planned, as he had 25 tackles with 7.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks and two forced fumbles. Perry totaled 54 tackles with 9.5 sacks, 13 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and two passes batted in 2011. If he had decided to return for his senior campaign and continued to improve under Monte Kiffin before going pro, he could have been a high first-round pick in 2013.
Perry enters the NFL as a skilled pass rusher. That is his real strength. He beats tackles with a combination of speed, strength and physicality. Perry has developed a nice repertoire of moves to beat tackles with outside and interior rushes. He was well coached at USC, and enters the league having been developed by a lot of staffers with NFL experience. On the pro level, Perry should improve his technique for run defense. That should be very doable for him as he has the size and power to be a good run defender.
The best fit, and easiest transition, would be for him to stay in a 4-3 defense. Perry should be able to contribute quickly as a base end. However, he is getting consideration from some teams as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Perry looked a little stiff at outside linebacker at the Combine and his Pro Day. He said he feels more comfortable as a defensive end in a 4-3. If Perry is drafted into a 3-4, he may need more developmental time to get used to his new position. He also may want to trim down to improve his agility for pass drops.
Player Comparison: Charles Grant. Perry's game is similar to the former Saint. They both are big-bodied defensive ends who are the same height. Grant (6-3, 285) had a quality career for New Orleans with a few seasons of double-digit sacks. Grant was the 25th-overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft. Perry should go in the same range. It wouldn't be surprising if Perry has a career that is equal to or better than Grant's.
NFL Matches: San Diego, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, New England, Green Bay
The Chargers are in need of an outside linebacker to rush the passer. If there is a run on some of the higher-rated pass-rushers, Perry could be an option for San Diego. The Bears could easily take a defensive end in the first round, and Perry would be a good scheme fit. Plus, Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli can lean on their long-time friendship with Monte Kiffin to get insight into the USC product.
The Lions could take Perry to bring him back to his hometown. Detroit could use an end to pair with Cliff Avril. The Texans lost Mario Williams in free agency, so they may want to target a pass-rusher at No. 26. Both the Patriots and Packers need to improve their edge rushers, and Perry could be an option for them late in the first round.