Nick Perry, DE, Southern California
6-foot-3, 271 pounds
Draft projection: First round
Lowdown: Perry aced the NFL Scouting Combine. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.64 seconds, third best among defensive linemen. He had the best vertical jump (38.5 inches) and the best broad jump (10 feet, 4 inches) among defensive linemen. He showed surprising strength, lifting 225 pounds 36 times, which tied for fifth at his position. He’s most comfortable with his hand on the ground as a 4-3 end. Given his size and speed, 3-4 teams will give him strong consideration, too, even though he did not go backward in the Trojans’ defense.
Perry led the Pac-12 in sacks last season with 9.5. He had four sacks as a sophomore and eight as a red-shirt freshman in 2009. So he’s not a one-year wonder. The question is that while his workout results say he has the athleticism of a 12th overall pick, his play on the field wasn't quite that good. Said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper: “Good pass rusher. One of the fastest defensive players on USC. Strong kid. Durability concern coming into this year, but he's proven that wrong.”
(The News is profiling 50 prospects in 50 days leading up to the 2012 NFL Draft.)