Nick Perry preparing for an important sophomore season All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Packers linebacker Clay Matthews
Packers linebacker Clay Matthews

Packers outside linebacker Nick Perry faced a tough transition from a college defensive end to outside linebacker in his first NFL season.

Perry showed flashes of promise throughout training camp and through the early stages of the season before a wrist injury landed him on the injured reserve. Appearing in six regular-season games, Perry recorded a pair of sacks and eight quarterback hurries, according to Pro Football Focus.

But since allowing the 49ers to rack up 579 yards in the playoffs, the Packers have made some changes to their defense. Perry, last year’s first-round pick, and Datone Jones, this year’s top pick, project as opening-day starters for the Packers in 2013.

Tyler Dunne wrote a piece outlining the importance of Perry and Jones at, and Jacob Westendorf tabbed Perry’s improvement as the key to the Packers’ defense at

Last season, the Packers ranked fourth in the NFL with 47 sacks. Clay Matthews racked up a team-high 13 sacks, while defensive end Mike Neal was second on the team with 4.5.

But if Perry lives up to his first-round draft position, the Packers finally have their bookend complement to Matthews. And although it’s only June and the team has yet to practice in full pads, head coach Mike McCarthy likes what he sees from Perry.

“He looks so much smoother and athletic than he did as a rookie,” McCarthy said, according to “A lot of that is the transition he was making. Nick is a powerful man.”

Perry’s physicality will be a welcome addition not only to the pass rush, but to the Packers’ run defense as well. For the second consecutive season, Pro Football Focus graded former Packer Erik Walden as the worst 3-4 outside linebacker in football. Against the run, Walden came in at No. 26 among 34 players at his position.

Just six games into his professional career, it’s far too early to rush to any conclusions about Perry’s NFL future. But athletically, Perry certainly gives the Packers a lot to be excited about.

At last year’s NFL Scouting Combine at 271 pounds, Perry clocked a 4.55 in the forty-yard dash, put up 35 reps on the 225-pound bench press and recorded a vertical jump of 38.5 inches. Perry’s ten-yard split of 1.51 seconds bests 2013 fourth-round running back Johnathan Franklin’s time of 1.54.

Perry is certainly one of a handful of candidates to be a breakout player for the Packers in 2013. If he puts it all together and reaches his potential in his second season, the team’s No.11-ranked defense from a year ago could improve dramatically.

In the NFL, it’s never all on one player. As great as Aaron Rodgers is, the Packers offense relies on more than just an MVP quarterback. But with perhaps the league’s best defensive player on one side in Matthews, the Packers could return to the league’s top-tier of defenses if Perry can provide a consistent pass rush himself.

One year ago, Perry was following Matthews around, picking the Pro Bowler’s brain on how to play the position. Outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene spent much of training camp working with Perry one-on-one between drills.

And now headed into 2013, the Packers hope their personal pass-rush project is poised to make a significant impact in his sophomore season.


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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.


54 thoughts on “Nick Perry preparing for an important sophomore season

  1. With Perry, I’ll settle for solid pass rusher and a guy that doesn’t blow contain on outside runs every other play. That would be an improvement over Walden. And make the Packers a better defense.

    1. Sacks, schmacks…can ANYONE tackle Adrian Peterson? There goes your season.

  2. Personally I think Perry will do just fine. I know he didn’t give us much to base that on last year other than Matthews was leading the league in sacks before Perry got hurt. I think the expectations were so high on this kid, especially after the season before when the Packers had what 29 sacks. He’s stupid strong (mean that in a good way) and is now in his second season of learning the defense. Granted 6 games wasn’t a lot but he still learned.

  3. What an improvement this D would be with a quality running mate for CM3. Im excited to see if jones can create some havoc on the D line. The other position im looking for improvement is S, McMillan could make a leap in his 2nd year.. I wish these 3 players the best. This D could be much improved this year

    1. My thoughts exactly. There’s absolutely no reason for the Packers not to be able to play with the big boys if those 3 things happen. I keep thinking Jones is a rookie and are we going to put unrealistic expectations on him? But if he’s as tuned in to the type of defense Capers runs, then the Packers may be have something in Jones. How great would it be to have Jones, Neal, CMIII, and Perry all to be able to pressure on the QB. Not just pressure but get there in a hurry. M.M. has Rodgers work with a bell or siren in practice that go’s off in 2.5 seconds. Be nice if pressure could come from more than one spot in 2.5 seconds when Packers defense is on the field. That 5 seconds to throw the ball that opposing QB’s seen to have all to often drives me crazy. No secondary can cover for that long.

  4. We are all Packer fans(I hope), but there is no rational argument that concludes Matthews is the best defensive player in the NFL.

    1. Sure there is. The one that comprehends tackles, assists, tackles for loss, sacks, forced fumbles, fumbles recovered, QB pressures, QB knockdowns, batted balls, passes defensed, interceptions, defensive touchdowns, etc.

      I think with CM3 you get a guy that is pretty sound in every defensive aspect of the game. So one could rationally advanced an argument that might conclude he is the best defensive player in the league.

      That aside, props for the screen name.

      1. With that argument its either Von Miller or JJ Watt. It’s really not close either. I’d say Matthews is top 5, but not in the conversation for the best.

    2. Schematically, Matthews excels in the 3-4 and is more than capable of playing in a 4-3. He’s a playmaker.

      And financially, Matthews is the highest-paid linebacker in football.

      So yeah, as far as the best defensive player in the league, Matthews is certainly in the conversation.

  5. Thick Nick and Dat One both seem to be cut from the same cloth. Big, stout, strong, quick. I can’t wait to see what these guys can do together.

  6. Its all about the strength and conditioning coaches. Will we once again lead the league in injuries? I believe it is at least worth a try to hire new strength and conditioning coaches. Sick of hang nails, pulled testicles, turf testicles, etc… If the Packers stay healthy, who will stop them? Nobody…

  7. Bish, if you’re looking for the most “complete” game/skillset, #52 is easily in the conversation. He’s strong in every phase. At OLB there may be better pass rushers out there (very, very few), there may be better run defenders (ditto), and the same for playing the pass (can’t think of one)… But I contend, no OLB in the league has Clay’s complete game. Nobody.

    1. Von Miller. Also not sure why you would care about how a 3-4 OLB drops into coverage. CM3 prolly drops into coverage about 6 snaps a game on average

    1. I’m excited bout the pass rush. If we get 8-10 sacks from perry and similar from Jones, and 12+ from Matthews, there would no where to hide. A natl writer even predicted 10 for Jones as a rookie. That would be huge!

      1. Are you F’ing Serious?!! Perry had 2 in six games last year. He could fall into 5 sacks! Your hero Aldon didn’t do squat once Justin was out and holding for him every time he rushed. Perry has a more difficult situation, since Matthews is the one that will have freedom to rush and stunt. Perry will have to be a lot more disciplined in his rush lane than Aldon or Matthews. Even w/ that being the case he shouldn’t have any trouble getting 8 and possibly 10 sacks. I don’t think that’s even a stretch, it should be relatively easy for him to get 8 sacks, IMO.

        1. You are assuming that Perry stays healthy and is a starter for all 16 games. That may not happen. To be honest with you, I think that it is unlikely. Cow42 may be right on this one.

          1. So why wouldn’t he be able to play 16 games or healthy? He doesn’t have an injury history and I don’t see anyone on the roster that is likely to unseat him as a starter! Its at least as likely, if not more, that he is healthy and starts 16 games than it is he doesn’t!

            1. I don’t know, Stroh, but I just have this uncomfortable feeling about Perry. In an article written in January, Bob McGinn wrote that Perry will be either a “boom or bust” and that one scout compared Perry to Vernon Gholston. That’s not good. Perry has “flashes” where he excels for one or two plays and then becomes a “non-factor.” McGinn even noted that “Walden had a more explosive first step to wheel around tackles.” That, too, is not good. I foresee a career filled with injuries and excuses.

              For McGinn’s whole article, see

              1. Seriously Gholdton has ZERO career sacks! I don’t expect Matthews type production but he’ll be a good player. Similar to Woodley maybe not quite as good.

                I wish he showed a little more fire at times but its not a prerequisite for success. He’ll be good for what he’s asked to do as long as he’s not asked to cover much.

    2. Anything is possible, of course, but double digit sacks for Perry is an awfully tall order.

      In the past 10 years, the average number of players who got double digit sacks is just 16. In none of those 10 years were there more than 20 guys with double digit sacks. I suppose it’s possible that Perry is one of the 16-20 most productive sackers in the league, but I’m not holding my breath. He just doesn’t strike me as an extraordinary pass rusher. Solid, maybe…

      I don’t think we really even need him to be a great sacker. We need someone who can hold the edge on running plays way, WAAAAAY more than we need pass rushers. Last year, as the author said, GB had the fourth highest sack total of all NFL defenses. That doesn’t suck. But only five teams gave up more yards per rush than GB did. We need run defenders more than pass defenders.

      I don’t like to agree with Cow, but I’d be satisfied to see Perry chip in 5 or 6 sacks, so long as he shores up the RUN defense.

      1. Think Lamar Woodley opposite Harrison. No reason that can’t happen w/ Perry opposite Matthews.

  8. I’m very anxious to see how the defense performs in 2013 for 3 reasons:

    1) Nick Perry is back on the field
    2) Datone Jones added to the defensive line
    3) Improvement from other rookies from last year – Hayward, McMillian, Daniels, Moses

    Basically, we are adding two #1 picks and should get improved performance from a few up-and-comers

  9. with walden rated as the WORST ilb in football, it again amazes me that the colts signed him and gave him all that money, good luck colts….

  10. The great thing about the Walden signing is that we will get a compensatory pick because of it. No worries that it will be a 7th rounder, we got rid of Walden, AND got a draft pick for next year. That is incredible. GoPack!

  11. I’ve been working on a project which involves some play analysis from last season. I noticed on at least one occasion a formation where Matthews and Perry were both lined up on the same side. Capers was sending a blitz overload on that side with Hayward rushing as well, and it generated significant pressure.

    When you have great players, you can be more creative in how you utilize their assets.

    1. Very interesting. It’s hard to imagine a Capers-led defense with multiple pass rushers, but between Matthews, Perry, Neal and maybe Moses, the Packers could be a new-look defense moving forward.

      I’ll be anxious to see your post.

  12. I do think Perry will start to blossom by midseason this year if not sooner (I’m on the hook with Taryn for game 7).

    However, one thing does concern me- all that time with the wrist injury means he wasn’t able to hone his slap fighting skills and other critical hand placement techniques that are a large part of setting up TEs and OT’s when rushing from a two point stance.

    I like MM talking about him being more fluid and athletic, it’s what I expected- he was thinking not reacting last season. Hopefully a full year to study and learn has got him reacting and makings plays instead of thinking and calculating.

  13. He should’ve had 3 sacks if not for a BS roughing the passer call on a clean sack

  14. perry 9 sacks, jones 7.5 sacks, neal 6 sacks, CM3 18 sacks, and the rest of the D 30 sacks

    1. This would total 70.5 sacks for the season, which is 1.5 sacks shy of the NFL record. Only two teams, the 1984 Bears (72) and the 1989 Vikings (71) have ever had more sacks.

      Your prediction might be a bit on the high side…

  15. Well, you’d better get used to the idea of him chipping in 10-12, AND helping against the run.

      1. 2 sacks in less than 6 full games equates to 6 sacks for the season. With some more coaching and some work on pass rush moves, another 2 sacks is hardly a stretch. From 8-10 just a matter of opportunity. If he proves to be a consistent pass rusher theres no reason he can’t get double digits on a consistent basis. He should be along the lines of Lamar Woodley, who BTW actually plays the same position. Meaning neither will have the freedom to rush as freely as Harrison, Matthews or Aldon Smith.

    1. Seriously?

      Either you’re just not thinking or you’re out of your mind. Let’s look at the ten most prolific sackers in NFL HISTORY since sacks were first recorded in 1982. How many sacks did each guy get per year on average?

      Bruce Smith – 10.5
      Reggie White – 12.4
      Kevin Greene – 10.7
      Chris Doleman – 10
      Michael Strahan – 9.4
      Jason Taylor – 9.3
      Richard Dent – 9.2
      John Randle – 9.8
      Lawrence Taylor – 10.2
      Leslie O’Neil – 9.5

      And you think that I “better get used to the idea” of Nick Perry – he of the TWO career sacks – putting up 10 to 12 a year? (You’re not actually insane, are you?)

      Or maybe you say, “Yeah, but some of those guys were from years ago. There’s more passing today, and therefore more sacks.” Think again. Here are the leading sackers among ACTIVE players, together with their career “sack per game” number:

      John Abraham – 9.4
      Jared Allen – 13
      Julius Peppers – 10.1
      Demarcus Ware – 13.9
      Dwight Freeney – 9.7
      Robert Mathis – 9.1
      Terrell Suggs – 8.4
      Justin Smith – 6.3
      Osi Umen-whatever – 7.5
      Trent Cole – 8.9

      You really think I better get used to the idea of Nick Perry being significantly better than all of these current guys except for Demarcus Ware and Jared Allen???

      That would be… um… a bit optimistic.

      1. How many of them play the same position that Perry does at Stong 34 OLB. Lets try that comparison? Best example is Lamar Woodley opposite Harrison. I would say Woodley and Perry is a very favorable comparison. As long as Perry has Matthews opposite him he’ll have single blocking. Perry and Woodley have more restrictions rushing than Harrison/Matthews, but that the best comparison.

        It takes both being on the field together for it to work. That’s the catch…

        1. Woodley has averaged 8.6 sacks per season. He did have one year (2011) where he only played 10 games. Of course, Perry has had only one season, and played only six games.

          I’m not down on Perry. I think he can be solid. But I do think that it’s pretty crazy to confidently assert that he’s an easy 10 to 12 sack guy. In the whole history of the NFL, there’s only a handful of guys like that, and I highly doubt that Nick Perry will be one of them.

          1. I don’t see a consistent 10-12 sacks but I do see 8-10 being easily attainable tho. He’s not going to be a top shelf pass rusher but a consistent one.

            1. Even if he gets 6-8 and holds the run – that will cause teams to scheme and block him. That free’s up CMIII from double and triple teams.

            2. Dude… The whole point Marpag is making is that if Perry is ‘easily’ an 8-10 sacks/year player… That puts him in the class of “top shelf” pass rushers, not just a “consistent” guy. Did you read the stats he posted?

              1. For the record, I wouldn’t be shocked if he did rack up 8 or so sacks, but to say he’d do that “easily” or “Consistently” is a bit of a stretch.

              2. Dude did you read what I said?! 8-10 sack isn’t top pass rusher IMO. Career aversge doesn’t mean squat. Half the years are meaningless.

              3. 11 OLB’s in 2012 racked up 8 or more sacks. Only 6 OLB’s in racked up 10 or more…

                11 OLB’s in 2011 racked up 8 or more sacks. Only 7 racked up 10 or more.

                10 OLB’s in 2010 racked up 8 or more sacks. 8 tallied 10 or more.

                10 OLB’s in 2009 racked up 8 or more sacks. Only 7 10 or more.

                Pretty consistent data, and the names of the great majority of these OLBs are synonymous with “dominant pass rusher”. Names like Matthews, Woodley, Dumervile, Ware, Hali, Arvil, Suggs, Philips, Harrison, Smith, Miller, etc etc. There are a few other lesser knowns, but not many.

                I think what’s going on here is that fans have unreal expectations for sack totals. Only about 10-15 players each year, regardless of position, get over 11 sacks. Even more consistent is that only 29 players a year break 8 sacks in a season, regardless of position.. Think of it this way, roughly only one player per team.

                Almost all of these guys are DE’s and OLBS (only 4 players out of the 119 players from the last 4 seasons to tally 8 or more sacks were NOT DE/OLBs).

                Considering there are a total of 128 starting DEs and OLBs in the league, and only 28 DEs/OLBs break the 8 sack barrier yearly, you are in the ~80% percentile of all STARTING DEs/OLBs in the league… 42 OLB’s in the last 4 years have scratched 8 sacks or more, (10.5 OLB’s out of 64 starting OLBs per year), that means they represent the top 15% of all starting OLBs.

                Any way you slice it, that’s not just “easily” attainable, or just “consistent” production. Coaches know it’s not a passe’ total for a player. Fans are unrealistic.

    1. Charlie, while FBO is not the end all, be all.. It’s comforting to see my eyes aren’t failing me.

      I’ve been hard-pressed to understand how so many fans were doom and gloom about Perry’s rookie campaign. I’ve asked more than once what people were looking at. If you watched him actually play, he looked just dominant quite frequently. Unexperienced, yes, and with limited knowledge of pass rush moves from a two point stance, but it was clear when I just focused on Perry down in and down out that he was a massive factor in CMIII’s early season sack rampage last year. Perry was simply flushing the QB by collapsing the pocket with regularity.

    2. Ugh, Charlie, these are just PROJECTIONS, not ANALYSIS.

      You gotta mention these kinds of things. FBO is just guessing Perry will be productive as a pro without seeing him play vs. NFL talent, as opposed to watching him play vs. NFL talent and assessing his chance to become successful.


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