Summary: Before the NFL became a league that was passing based, middle linebackers like Perryman were a prime commodity to build a defense around. With the league trending toward the aerial offense, middle linebackers have been downgraded in their emphasis in the NFL draft. Still, quality middle linebackers are a critical ingredient to any good defense and there are plenty of teams interested in drafting Perryman early in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Perryman steadily improved over the past three season as a tough defender for the Hurricanes. He notched 64 tackles with six tackles for a loss, two passes broken up, one forced fumble and an interception returned 41 yards for a touchdown in 2012. Perryman took his game to another level as a junior with 108 tackles with five tackles for a loss, one sack and three passes broken up in 2013. He considered entering the 2014 NFL Draft, but decided to return to school.
2014 was Perryman's best season with 110 tackles with 9.5 for a loss, three forced fumbles, two sacks, five passes broken up and one interception. He had a big impact in a number of games and showed an improved ability to play the pass.
For the NFL, Perryman looks like a three-down starting middle linebacker. He is a tough run-defender who is a force in the tackle box. Perryman takes on blocks well and is quick to read his keys. He has good instincts and uses them to limit runs. Perry is also a good tackler and a very physical defender. He will tackle backs with violence and plays with a mean streak. While Perryman doesn't have elite speed, he is quick enough to get to runs on the perimeter.
Perryman might not have the skill set to be a pass-defender who can cover in man like some elite middle linebackers in the NFL, Luke Kuechly for example. Still, Perryman does well to read the eyes of quarterbacks and disrupt passing lanes. He moves well in zone and picks up targets in his area. Perryman doesn't have great length, fluidity or is extreme speed. Thus, he is somewhat limited in pass coverage. However, Perryman could improve with NFL coaching.
Perryman also is a leader. He commands the defense and provides a real presence with his physicality. Sources say that Perryman could go late in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft and shouldn't get out of the second round.
Player Comparison: DeMeco Ryans The Eagles veteran linebacker is very similar to Perryman. Ryans is a physical, attacking linebacker who is a superb run-defender. Perryman was one of those in college and should continue to be in the NFL. He could go a little bit higher than Ryans, who went to the Texans with the first selection in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft, but in the same general range.
In the NFL, I see Perryman being a linebacker of Ryans' caliber. They both are emotional leaders who are true captains. Perryman and Ryans are the emotional heart and soul of their defenses.
NFL Matches: Arizona, Denver, Green Bay, Cleveland, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Oakland, Minnesota, Atlanta, Houston
There are a number of teams that could target Perryman late in the first round and in the second round. The highest that he could hope to go might be to Arizona. Larry Foote isn't a long-term starter for the Cardinals, plus they can't rely on Daryl Washington to avoiding suspensions. Adding a linebacker to pair with Kevin Minter could be the direction for Arizona to go in.
Denver needs a middle linebacker like Perryman. At the Senior Bowl, Perryman said the Broncos had showed a lot of interest in him. Oakland also met with him at the Senior Bowl and the Raiders might want to add a middle linebacker for their new defense under Jack Del Rio. The Chiefs also could consider an upgrade in the middle.
Green Bay needs more talent in the middle of its defense. The weakness at linebacker could be seen when taking on mobile quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson. Upgrading over A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones would do a lot to improve the Packers' defense.
At the top of the second round, Perryman could land with the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay needs a Mike linebacker for Lovie Smith's defense, and Perryman could form an excellent tandem with Lavonte David. Atlanta could use more thump in the middle of its defense, where Perryman would be a good fit.
The Browns met with Perryman at the Senior Bowl, and he could interest them in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The Texans also could use a linebacker to pair with Brian Cushing, and Perryman would give Houston a presence it has missed since trading Ryans to Philadelphia.