Thompson Hopes Perry Helps Defense
Packer's GM Ted Thompson said he would take the best available player when Green Bay's turn to pick came up in the 1st round of the 2012 NFL Draft. It just so turns out that the best player available at number 28 addressed a critical need for the worst pass rush defense in the NFL last year.
Nick Perry, redshirt junior, defensive end out of USC is Thompson's man. He led the PAC 12 with 9.5 sacks in 2011 and earned All PAC 12 honors for it. After redshirting, he played minimal minutes in 2009, but started the next two years rushing the passer from the down position.
Thompson, who usually speaks very little in regards to specific plans, came right out and said they plan to use Perry at OLB in the base 3-4 defense. He will indeed play opposite pass rusher to fellow USC alum Clay Matthews.
"We're convinced that he's athletic enough to play standing up and to do some of the things we do," said Thompson. "(He's a) very physical guy, can set the edge, can rush the passer; we feel good."
The interesting thing here is that University of Wisconsin's offensive guard Kevin Zeitler was taken right before the Packers, by the Bengals, at pick number 27. It was rumored the Packers were high on him and although their needs are more pressing on defense, if Thompson had Zeitler rated higher than Perry, would he have taken him? Thompson maintains he stays true to his teams draft board and will take the next player up regardless of the position they play.
Many experts and writers believe otherwise and explore that Thompson could not ignore the gaping holes the Packers have on the defensive side of the ball. Packers beat writer Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal was one of those doubters and right before the draft he wrote:
"Thompson can talk all he wants about the general philosophy of always picking the best player. The truth is, his imbalanced roster needs balancing. The two-time NFL executive of the year knows full well that he was partly responsible for the defensive collapse that ultimately ruined the Packers' legitimate shot at a perfect season. He can't permit that to happen again."
Regardless of what he was planning to do, Thompson went with a strong, physical pass rusher in hopes that he will take some pressure off of Matthews on the opposite side. When the USC Trojans wrapped up their season, Perry's weight was in the vicinity of 250 LBS. At the combine he weighed in at 271 LBS, but still managed to run 4.64/40.
It's safe to say that Perry got some advice and thought he would be drafted as a 4-3 DE and decided to put on some weight after the season finished. He may have to shed that weight now, as Thompson and the Packers are banking on him wreaking havoc at the OLB spot to help sure up a pass rush that was almost nonexistent in 2011.
Packer fans will have to wait and see.