NFL Draft Prospect Profile: DE/OLB Nick Perry, USC All Green Bay Packers All the Time
USC DE/OLB Nick Perry

Green Bay Packers draft prospect profile: DE Nick Perry, USC

Player information:

  • Nick Perry, DE USC
  • 6-foot-3, 271 lbs
  • Social sciences economics major and Detroit, Michigan native.

NFL Combine:

  • 4.64 40yd dash
  • 4.66 20 yard shuttle
  • 7.25 3-cone drill
  • 124″ broad jump
  • 38.5″ vertical jump
  • 35 bench press reps

News & Notes:

A five-star recruit out of Detroit, Perry spurned his homestate Wolverines and Spartans to join Pete Carroll at USC. He made an immediate impact with the Trojans, notching eight sacks in a reserve role his freshman season. As a junior, Perry led the Pac-12 in sacks with 9.5. That performance gave Perry the momentum he needed to declare for the 2012 NFL draft, where he is likely to be a first-round pick. He has indicated that he’d rather play with his hand in the dirt as a 4-3 defensive end, but his pure athleticism gives him a shot at being an impact 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.

What they’re saying about him:

Wes Bunting (National Football Post): “Exhibits the first step to be a threat off the edge, however struggles to drop his pad level when flattening out. Plus, he doesn’t have much of a counter to his game at this point. Nevertheless, has some obvious talent and is a guy you would expect to start as a rush backer in a 34 scheme and be a productive threat off the edge.”

Dane Brugley (CBSSports): “Has very good first step quickness and does a nice job in space. Has the footwork, body control and fluidity to quickly change directions. Does a nice job elevating and getting his hands up to knock down passes at the line of scrimmage. Works hard to collapse the pocket with a relentless motor. Brings aggressive playing style on every snap and doesn’t quit. Lacks elite size and length; undersized and can be swallowed by larger blockers.” (Combine):  “…his impact playing the “elephant” position within Caroll’s defense as a freshman will encourage many teams to consider drafting him as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. As a sophomore and junior he continued to develop into an elite pass rushing prospect, and has the size and athletic ability to be successful working against NFL tackles at the next level. He is a physically put together athlete with a good motor and extremely uncommon balance, and has late first round value.”


Video Analysis:

Never stops working off the edge towards the quarterback
Motor won’t be an issue at the next level
Doesn’t seem to display elite bend that top NFL pass rushers possess
Disciplined containing the edge on boots, play-action fakes
Majority of sacks came from beating college tackles around the edge
Always played with his hand on the ground
Can get skinny to knife through blocks on the inside


Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on


31 thoughts on “NFL Draft Prospect Profile: DE/OLB Nick Perry, USC

  1. This guy or Zach Brown seem the best bets at OLB in round 1. But I doubt either one falls to 28.

    I do think there will be little drop off between OLB’s 3-10 or so in rounds 2/3. I’d like to see TT go with a DE in round 1.

    But if Perry or Brown is there, take him! The others seem to have too many red flags/bust potential for me.

    1. I would be really surprised if Brown were high on TT or Capers draft board. Supremely athletic, but as much as I’ve watched the kid I don’t think he’s played a single down where he’s running down-hill. He avoids contact, runs around blocks and avoids contact. He’ll get over-drafted due to his athletic ability, but the kid is as soft as I’ve seen.

      Perry isn’t as athletic as Clay Matthews, but he likes contact and can eventually set an edge. Perry could make a day one impact, at least on situational downs. You would be drafting Brown for 2013 or beyond and hope he takes the skirt off.

    2. Zach Brown is not a 3-4OLB, in my opinion, and not a first round pick, either.

      Bear, I assume the email bombardment issues are fixed for you?

      1. I agree, if your goal is to run base defense. I could see a guy with Brown’s skill set being coveted for teams that see their nickle packages being the majority front. Imagine being in the NFC South and facing Graham and Sproles at least 2 times per year.

        As the NFL continues to spread the field offensively teams will hardly play in base and guys like Brown will be valuable.

        I still don’t care for him until mid second.

  2. At first I didn’t care for Perry, but I’ve been warming up to him with the more I read. Only a junior too. I would be OK with the Pack taking him.

  3. As someone who doesn’t live and breath the draft, he has the best potential I’ve seen yet. If he’s available in #1 take him. Add a few pounds and use him as a DE. A little less weight and he’s an OLB.

    For anyone who knows, what’s his injury history?

  4. The fact that he doesn’t want to play OLB worries, me and he might be to small for a DE in a 3-4. His measurables surprised me because he looks thick & stocky. Freeny ?

    1. In fairness to Perry, he said he was ‘more comfortable’ with his hand in the dirt, didn’t say he wouldn’t play OLB.

      1. Exactly. And he’s obviously more comfortable because that’s what he did 99% of the time. Although there is a clip in that video when he drops in coverage and sniffs out a screen play rather nicely.

        1. Hey Al, any chance you could tell us how Perry stacks up against Bruce Irvin? I haven’t seen fame film on him but, as anyone can see, his measurables are off the charts!

          1. I would take Perry over Irvin, although it’s fun watching Irvin rush the passer. Problem is, even in college Irvin was only used in passing downs. Not good against the run and no experience in coverage. Many are looking at Irvin as a specialist, not a 3-down player.

            1. That’s pretty Mich whatvi expected. If GB could land Irving in the 2nd round as a passing down specialist and develop him into an every down player, is be all for it.

  5. Well, I can’t say I’ve looked at a ton of clips on Brown – but he’s looked like a beast from what I’ve seen.

    We don’t get the ACC down here in Texas at all. I have seen a fair few PAC 12 games, and Perry has been a monster…

    What about Upshaw from Alabama? I’ve seen some negative comments on him too.

    I’d really like a sure fire pass rushing OLB – like 4 years ago. But from everything I’ve seen, 5 technique DT looks like a better position this year.

    1. I was hoping we’d trade up for upshaw this year but now that we know flynn isn’t getting tagged I can put my pipe dreams to rest and operate in the real world.

      Who’s your endorsement for first round DT? I think I could get on board for picking DT first round then going for Vinny Curry second round. I’m kind of glad he ran such a slow 40, pushed him down draft boards and I know he plays faster than that.

      If we go OLB 1st round I think this is our guy. Yeah his ability will only marginally translate to the NFL but you can say that about almost any NFL draft prospect at any postion. If that’s the case we could go DT second round.

      But these things are contingent on getting Wells signed. If TT won’t over pay for wells I think it’s pretty safe to say that he’ll refuse to overpay for a FA center. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go for Konz in the first if we don’t get Wells. Konz would arguably be the BPA and he would fit into draft by need so it’s hard to argue against it. Also would fit best value available for those of you who read that article.

      1. Zack –

        Go to’s draft page. Sort out the DT’s (this position translates best to 3/4 DE’s)

        There are like 10 prospects that look great. IMO 1 of our first 2 picks HAS to be DL. And like I said earlier, almost all of the 3/4 OLB types have multiple red flags. I’d only really want Perry – and if you guys say Brown is not looking good – then only Perry…

        IMO he’ll be gone by 28. So we go DL in 1st and a project OLB in 2/3. Again


        1. Yeah I looked at those. I was wondering specifically if YOU had any in particular in mind. I disagree that there are 10 first round DT’s available… Maybe 10 1st and 2nd round DT’s but not 1st round.

          1. I agree. 10 1/2 rders for our 5 technique need.

            I usually judge a college player that would fit our needs by:

            1. The competition he played
            2. His game tape quality and consistency
            3. His measurables at the combine
            4. His attitude on and off field
            5. His injury history

            IMO, all but Perry and Upshaw at OLB that we’d look at high in the draft has at least 2 red flags out of those five.

            At DL there seem to be 6-10 guys that have 4 of those 5 bases covered. I’ll get back to you with specific names this wknd. I looked them up, but I forgot, and I don’t have time now…

  6. Zach,
    I agree that getting a D-lineman would be great if you thought that Vinny Curry would still be available at the end of the 2nd. I love Vinny Curry. He won’t be there at the end of the 2nd. therefore, because OLB is more critical for pressure in a 3-4, I think taking Vinny curry at 28 and then grabbing a space eating D-lineman at 60 should work. Use your 3rd on a Safety like Markell Martin from OkSt. — Of course that whole situation changes if Wells is not resigned. GoPack!

    1. Your response begs the question, would you pick vinny curry over Perry?

      Also, curry lost alot of stock because he ran a 4.98 40 He very well might not be around at the end of the 2nd but it’s not impossible and there’s always the possibility of trading up… I could see trading james jones and our second round pick for an earlier second round pick… that would serve a few purposes in getting us curry and a 1st round pick along with clearing roster space for our raw young talent at WR that we’re either going to use or lose next year and clear 3mil in cap room for a minimally used WR.

      Again, as we agree, depends on wells.

    2. Something intreesting, Drafttek has Vinny Curry going 50th so if that’s any indication I think we could definitely work out a trade to get up there for him. Also, it has Konz going 20th in the draft… I hope he’s still around if we can’t get Wells to resign. I think the next best rated center is Ben Jones… who I honestly don’t know alot about. Then again, drafttek also has Jared Crick as our first round pick, O.o

  7. Yes, I would take Curry over Perry. Worried about Perry’s short stature. I like Curry’s length. I might be in the minority but I think he will run faster at his pro day and I think the coverage concerns are overstated. when we face fast TE’s(guys that run 25yard seam routes)Woodson or Burnett will be covering them, not our OLB. Curry is a better pure pass rusher than Perry in my opinion. He will be rushing 80% of the time. — Also, I think James Jones value to another team that needs a #2 receiver (ie.Miami/Houston/Cleveland/Cincinati) would be their #2, straight up. Is there a receiver on the board in the 2nd round that is a more surefire bet than Jones? NO. I would love to see us dump our #4 receiver so that we could get an early 2nd round pick. GoPack!

    1. I see what you’re saying about Curry… I like him a lot too but I can’t say that I’d pick him before Perry. Perry’s not tiny. He’s 6’3″ which is the same height as Curry. Curry may have a longer wing span but I don’t think that you can say by an stretch that Perry is undersized. I think we go Perry if he’s available and we want an OLB 1st rounder or trade up for Curry in the 2nd if we want DL or center first round. Unless he has an outstanding pro day with a much better 40… then we’d have to nab him in the first and I’d only do that if Perry wasn’t available as already stated..

      With the way offenses spread defenses out at some point Vinny Curry would be isolated in coverage a couple times a game… He’s not ALWAYS going to have help so you at least have to acknowledge that he’s a liability in coverage… but all of our probable prospects at OLB are. Zach Brown is the only one that is pretty solid in coverage and he’s not the answer to our pass rushing which is the major point of drafting an OLB so I’d say it’s not enough to scare me off.

      Great point about James Jones. I just don’t know if any team would go for it but it would be worth a shot. Maybe if straight up isn’t good enough for them we could go James Jones and a 4th or 5th round pick.

  8. Good analysis all. I agree that Perry is the only OLB-type worthy of our first rd pick. If he’s available he’d be my first choice. TT is gold w/ his 2nd rd picks, I’ll put my trust in him. In fact if Perry isn’t available, I’d like to see TT trade down. Many of those DTs seem like Harrell types to me. Better off hedging bets w/ more picks.

  9. Perry will be long gone, he won’t get past pick 16, the more guys I look at the more I see Andre Branch as the guy GB should dial in on. He shows some real flashes of being able to dip and rip around the edge and most certainly would be an immediate upgrade over the guys we got now. Just hope he doesn’t get a surge late and end up going right in front of packers pick at 28.

    1. most mock drafts still have him available… not saying those are completely reliable but they’re the best thing we have to go by right now. there’s a bunch of LB’s ahead of him. I doubt he’ll go top 16. Maybe 20-27 but not top 16.

  10. My draft math has it coming down to this small target group if TT stays put at pick 28,

    Whitney Mercilus OLB
    Andre Branch OLB
    Kendell Reyes DE
    Stephon Gilmore CB
    Peter Konz C
    Mark Barron S(inj causes slip)
    Donta Hightower ILB/OLB

    I’m not sure if TT would be interested in picking OT Mike Adams but he could be in that group as well. All things being said thats not too shabby a group of prospects for the 28th pick.

  11. He certainly would upgrade their pass rush, thats my biggest issue/concern, you have to have more than one player who is capable of defeating one on one blocking, we all saw what happened last year. In fact I wouldn’t mind if they drafted 3 or 4 potential pass rushers in this draft, they need them.

    1. I’m also bullish on Shea Mcclellin as a future GB OLB from Boise St., the more I watch him the more I like him. Could be a real bargain in the 3rd or 4th round.

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