Nick Perry: High Priority Project for the Green Bay Packers

Packers Linebacker Nick Perry
Packers Linebacker Nick Perry
Packers Linebacker Nick Perry

With the 28th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Ted Thompson was tempted by a handful of potential difference makers on defense.

Rather than selecting Courtney Upshaw, who had been projected by some as a mid-1st round pick, or Harrison Smith, who would have added some stability to the safety position after Nick Collins was released, Thompson picked USC’s Nick Perry in hopes of bolstering the Packers’ front seven.

Perry was immediately penciled in as Green Bay’s starting outside linebacker opposite Clay Matthews–a spot that has been a revolving door the past three seasons. Erik Walden, Brad Jones and Frank Zombo have each shown occasional glimpses of reliability, but the starting job remained vacant entering this offseason.

In comes Perry.

The rookie defensive end-turned-linebacker has been running with the first-team defense ever since mini-camp in June. But in the early stages of training camp, Perry hasn’t exactly drawn rave reviews.

He’s failed to generate much of a consistent pass rush, and he hasn’t made any “wow” plays in live team action. However, it’s clear after first week of training camp that the Packers are making Perry a highly-prioritized project heading into 2012.

Morning or evening, indoors or outdoors, if Perry isn’t directly involved in the drill the Packers are running, he’s doing one of two things: getting tips from Matthews or chatting with outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene.

Perry gave Greene reason for excitement on one occasion at Thursday night’s practice. In one-on-one drills between the offensive tackles and outside linebackers, Perry got physical and stood up Bryan Bulaga, causing Greene to shower him with praise.

Although he was quiet later in practice during team period and hasn’t generated many would-be sacks thus far, the 271-pound linebacker figures to be an immediate upgrade over last year’s starter Erik Walden setting the edge in the run game. Walden graded out dead-last among 28 3-4 outside linebackers against the run last year, according to Pro Football Focus.

Whether it’s in the form of a high sack total or simply an improved defense overall, the Packers certainly hope their project pans out in year one.


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Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.


  • steve cheez

    I loved Fred Carr when I was a kid. Hope Nick lives up to the 53

  • I read a similar piece on JSonline this morning. It seems the great ones always make some ‘wow’ plays right away – even in their rookie year. The ones who exponentially grow over several years like Driver are the rare exception.

    If Perry turns out to be an above average starter for years, that still helps us greatly.

    • paul haugen

      Think Mario Williams. His first year was universally seen as a bust, as he was learning the NFL and position. Now he is one of the best in NFL.

  • Tarynfor12

    Lets treat this Perry question as we do Newhouse.
    Bulaga has become a close to elite RT and Perry may have trouble with those few in the league when up against them as will Newhouse on the flip side with really speedy pass rushers.
    The point is though,if Perry exudes no major rise in his look at effort or success against lower talent at RT…many will be burning TT for a bust pick yet again and will forget they all wanted him also.
    I will stand on my pre-draft pick of Vinny Curry being the better option for the Packers for improving the pass rush we needed.
    I hope for the defenses sake..Perry wakes up from this somewhat coma-esk effort.

    • PackersRS

      You’ve personally been in every training thus far? Or you can tell effort from miles away?

      Moreover, you can distinguish lack of effort from playing slow due to a complete change in technique so easily?

      I, for one, expected nothing more from a player rushing standing up for the first time, playing against one of the best tackles in the NFL.

      This “great ones flash their first time” is a baseless generalization, worth no more than excrement.

      • Tarynfor12

        No I haven’t but like many I go on the words of those that are their.Most writers there say Perry is losing all his one on ones and yet we get this from Capers;

        “There’s no question about his strength and explosiveness, the ability to bend and get under people,” said Capers. “You see in the one-on-one drills, nobody is going to knock him off the ball. And I think you’re going to see that power when he starts rushing.”

        I have questions about what writers post as descriptions of practice but,way too many say the same thing.

        Is it coach speak from Capers or truth from the camp writers…I go with the writers so far on Perry.But,I’ll get a look at it tonight for myself.

        • Oppy

          Media are expecting Perry to shine on every snap, every drill, as he learns an entirely new position.

          Coaches are looking at Perry and watching how he is growing, and understand how his performance at this stage of learning may project to his performance once he’s learned the techniques and can start utilizing his god-given talents once his body and mind have assimilated those techniques and the scheme.

          Coaches do, after all, train people for a living. Reports I have read usually state that Perry flashes. That is all I need to know. If he’s flashing while going up against Bulaga when he doesn’t really know the first thing about playing OLB in a 3-4, that tells me he’s going to be okay.

        • PackersRS

          Again, what did you expect, what did they expect from a guy playing a new position, rushing standing up, something he has never done, and against Bulaga, who last year allowed just 20 pressures in 409 snaps, going against great, veteran pass rushers?

          And then talk about effort? It’s absurd.

          • D.J.

            Give them facts aint no rookie going to come in beat Bulaga every play not happen

    • Ron LC

      Way too many writers is quantified just how? Does tha mean 100 or 2? Listening to the pontifications of pompus editorial page rejects (sports writers) is a dangerous thing to do. I’m with Oppy and RS here. No one has seen enough to even hazard a valid opinion yet.

      Wait until after game #3 in the preseason, then tell me about his strengths and weaknesses.

  • We found similar discrepancies with another coachbuilt Ford we wrote about a few years back:

  • Shawn

    Hate to say it but I have felt Perry was going to be a dud ever since his first interview. He does not want to be a Line Backer plain and simple. He just does not have it in him to become good at the position. He has yet to talk excitedly about being in that position. Sure some of the words that come out of his mouth are the right things to say, but he does not seem to have any passion for the words.

    • PackersRS

      It doesn’t cease to amaze me how people can make definitive conclusions about someone they haven’t even seen in person.

      • Marques Eversoll

        I agree, it’s foolish to assume something about a player so quickly into his career. Sure, you occasionally have your Greg Jennings where from Day 1 you can see the guy is primed for NFL stardom, but that isn’t always the case.

        Perry may not be a game-breaking pass rusher as a rookie, but that’s completely okay. Look at Matthews last year: he only had six sacks, but he was one of the top five 3-4 OLBs in the NFL. If Perry can be an upgrade over Walden setting the edge against the run–which I fully expect to be the case–the defense as a whole will be a much improved unit.

        • Oppy

          Great to see someone bring this up- I just read an article about Perry having to overcome the competition from Walden to be the starting OLB this year.

          The FIRST thing I thought was “There’s no way I’d put Walden out there over Perry. Walden is a complete liability when it comes to holding the point, and they would actually consider putting him out there on the left when they have a physical beast like Perry on the roster??”

    • FireMMNow

      yeah, i think shawn’s comments are a bit of a stretch as well. “he just does not have it in him to become good at the position” WHAT!! c’mon. the guy is going through his first week of training camp at a new position. he may be a bust, but calling him a bust right now is idiotic. give me a break.

      there were OLBs that i had ranked ahead of perry going into the draft as well, but guess what, they are on other teams struggling their way through their first training camp as well.

      lets not forget, CM3 did not beat out brady poppinga for a starting spot until about week 6. BRADY POPPINGA!! the guy is going to struggle for a while. Aldon smith was only a pass rush specialist his rookie year. james harrison was cut 2 or 3 times by the steelers before he become one of the top OLBs in the game. the packers do not have an option to bring him along slowly. everyone just relax. take a deep breath, and wait a couple years before we call a promising first round pick a bust.

    • Oppy

      Shawn, he said he’d feel more comfortable playing DE in a 4-3.

      Let’s say you’re right handed. Wouldn’t you say you’re more comfortable writing right handed? Does that mean you flatly refuse to use your left hand?

      I would rather use my right, but if my employer- and employer who gave me the opportunity to fulfill my childhood dream to play in the NFL and make MILLIONS of dollars- asked me to start using my left hand to do paperwork, it would be difficult but I think I’d be up to the task.

      Watching the interviews with Perry, I get the feeling that if anything, his demeanor speaks to the fact that his head is swimming and for the first time in years, he is having to really think about what he’s asking his body to do, when he’s used to just playing without thinking. He’s probably also adjusting to playing against a pro-bowl caliber opponent every down, as opposed to being undermatched often in college.

      In other words, he’s probably in a slight state of shock right now, and a little discombobulated.

      I just want to make sure that when the positive reports start coming out on Perry, you’re just as quick to point out your immediate gut feelings about his being picked as you did when the slightest underwhelming report was released.

  • BTF

    I’m going to go with the attitude that the first week of training camp is a bit early to worry about Perry…

    Sure it would be nice if everyone was raving about him from the word go but he’s a late first round pick not a top 5 and he’s adapating to a new position and scheme.

    We need to give him time and not let our desperation for an improved pass rush colour our judgements. IMO. As the article says he’s getting plenty of snaps and coaching and that to me is good news..

  • CSS

    Capers has installed almost 2/3rd’s of a playbook as thick as a phone-book. Rookies can’t play full speed, under control and with purpose until they understand where they need to be and what their respective responsibilities are. You see it every year, in every camp with defensive lineman, defensive ends and OLB’s.

    The kid can’t play full speed until he fully understands his role in the defense and the playbook, and I suspect that won’t happen until mid-season.

    Give the kid a break.

    • Oppy


    • Ron LC

      You said it all, to paraphrase the Bud song.

  • Big T

    Perry is TT’s baby, everyone was well aware that he plays a down when he feels like it and then takes a series or two off. TT knows this and I am sure has a plan to play him sparingly. He will reward him with good plays like a little child. Amazing the 5 year old brains stuck in these 300 pound frames….

    • CSS

      “…everyone was well aware that he plays a down when he feels like it and then takes a series or two off.”

      Who is ‘everyone’? I’ve read scouts that questioned how consistent his effort was, but I can’t recall anybody saying anything as dramatic as what you’ve stated above.

      Also, what makes you believe he has a 5-year old brain? He interviews well, didn’t have any NCAA qualifying issues and no reports of issues at USC. How do you even equate ‘effort’ with ‘intelligence’?

      • Oppy

        Nick Perry chalked up a 29 on the Wonderlic….

        Odds are Big T wouldn’t score that high. Um, seriously.

        • Oppy

          As a matter of fact, Perry’s 29 on the wonderlic intelligence test is equal to or higher than the following Super Bowl QB’s:

          Trent Dilfer
          Kurt Warner
          Rich Gannon
          Donovan McNabb
          Ben Roethlisberger
          Matt Hasselbeck
          Peyton Manning
          Rex Grossman
          Drew Brees

          So, Let’s just say that Big T’s comment about Nick Perry’s intelligence was just plain stupid.

          • CSS

            I realize that, Oppy. I’m responding rather politely so I can watch Big T (should change his name to, ‘comment hidden due to low rating’) respond.

          • Big T

            What is a wonderlick and how did he get 29 wonderfullicks?

            • CSS

              Surely an astute analyst such as yourself knows one of the standard tools NFL executives use to measure aptitude and general intelligence? It’s part of the draft process.

              • Big T

                I am not saying that Perry is as dumb as a box of rocks, I just believe he has a selfish baby like attitude…

              • CSS

                Show me a quote, any quote or statement, that would point to Perry being a ‘baby’ or being ‘selfish’?

                He signed early, in camp on time and is doing everything asked of him by the coaching staff.

                Put up some evidence or retract the statement.

    • CSS

      Instead of responding my disliking the comments why don’t you simply clarify with some facts, Big T?

      • Big T

        Maybe all of your synapses are not firing, it sure seemed clear to me in his interview that he did not want to play linebacker, he would have to think too much.

        • CSS

          The interview you were referring to was pre-draft, where he said he felt more comfortable with his hand in the ground. Didn’t whine, complain or say he wasn’t willing to learn the position. Post draft, he’s been nothing but upbeat and enthusiastic about learning the position.

          Now, about your synapses……

          Next time, go to the original source and look at the time it was stated and what was stated in context.

          Please retract. Then learn.

          • Big T

            Dude I want Perry to be the next Clay Matthews, however you can talk to any source your little heart desires and the fact of the matter is — so far he hasn’t impressed anyone, will he in the future– maybe… As for now so sorry the man hasn’t impressed…….

            • CSS

              “He hasn’t impressed…”

              I can get on board with this, because he hasn’t ‘impressed’ during his 4 padded practices.

              But this is quite the walk-back from:

              *”his interview that he did not want to play linebacker, he would have to think too much….”

              *”I just believe he has a selfish baby like attitude….”

              *”everyone was well aware that he plays a down when he feels like it and then takes a series or two off….”

              *”He will reward him with good plays like a little child. Amazing the 5 year old brains stuck in these 300 pound frames…”

              All direct quotes from you (with authority, by the way) that are demonstrably false where you can’t supply a single source or example of any single one.

              Bravado, bluster and B.S.

            • Ron LC

              You’ve been listening to McGinn’s anonymous sources too much. Try a real person and you might get a more accurate responce.

              • Big T

                CSS at some time you will have to start thinking on your own and not regurgitate what all the “sources” are saying.

              • PackersRS

                “Thinking on his own” without any information, he might as well be daydreaming.

  • All I know is the Vikings top pick from
    USC (Tackle Kalil) said he went up against Perry in practice every day. He credited
    Perry for making him better (top rated tackle in the draft)!

    That’s good enough for me!

  • tlvincent

    I feel like Perry is going to be a decent upgrade this year, he will set the edge and bang TE’s way better than Walden did last year. I see Perry as a slightly more athletic version of Lamaar Woodley, they are pretty similar with Perry being a little bit more explosive and faster, if he turns into Woodley the Packers will be set!

    • tlvincent

      Woodley combine/pro day stuff:
      6’2″ 266 4.74 40 time 29 bench reps and a 38.5″ vertical leap. Woodley also was a DE at Michigan.

      6’3″ 4.64 40 time 35 bench reps and a 38.5″ vertical.

      They are pretty dang comparable.

      • Mark

        I can’t remember who it was on NFL network, but they made the same comparison as you did with Perry and Woodley. If he’s even remotely close to Woodley’s production so far, I’ll be ecstatic.

        • tlvincent

          me too Mark. Woodley only had 4 sacks his rookie year but after that you can pretty much pencil him in for 8-11 sacks a year, with CM Jr. on the other side that type of production would be a big big big deal for the GB defense!!!

  • Normthe1

    Personally, as in being my opinion only, I think we should ring da Bears and just agree that things got a little wacky on draft day so could we just make things right and we give them our DE playing OLB and they give us their OLB playing DE. Just sayin’…

    Seeing as this will NEVER happen in the real world, I’m content to let MM, DC anfd KG have their way with Perry and prove me wrong…

    • tlvincent

      it is weird isn’t it, sure will be interesting to follow both players career paths. Lets just hope that Perry ends up the better long term player 🙂

  • tlvincent

    I thought Perry showed pretty well in the limited snaps of the fam night. You can at least see that he has the combo of speed/athl. combined with real power when he rushes the passer. He isn’t going to just try to run around the tackle like other packer guys only to get pushed way out of the play. And I think he has the strength to not easily get pushed off his line, now he just needs some coaching and work on his moves, kid is going to be more than fine in my humble opinion:)

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