Packers Annual Checkup: Nick Perry

In 12 games last season, Packers linebacker Nick Perry had 33 tackles, 5.0 sacks, 23 quarterback hurries, zero tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and two missed tackles.

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FOX Sports Wisconsin’s Paul Imig gives an in-depth statistical analysis and film study of every Packers player in his annual offseason checkup. Check every weekday through mid-April for his latest report.

Nick Perry, outside linebacker

Season stats: 12 games (433 snaps; 38.5 percent of total defensive snaps); 33 tackles, 5.0 sacks, 23 quarterback hurries, zero tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, two missed tackles, zero interceptions, one pass defensed, 18 stops (solo tackles that resulted in offensive failure); dropped back in coverage 38 times, being targeted five times, allowing five receptions for 79 yards

ProFootballFocus.com season rating: minus-2.3 (ranked No. 14 out of 26 on Packers defense)

Best game: Week 5 win vs. Detroit (played 40 of 68 defensive snaps; five tackles, two sacks, four QB hurries, one forced fumble, zero missed tackles, four stops; 3.5 PFF rating)

Worst game: Week 17 win at Chicago (played 12 of 51 defensive snaps; one tackle, one QB hurry, one stop; minus-2.5 PFF rating)

Packers 2014 annual offseason checkup archive

Expectations at the start of the season: Medium

Expectations were …  Met

Looking live: Nick Perry knew that he had a forgettable rookie season in 2012 and that he didn’t live up to his billing as a first-round pick. "I have a lot to prove," Perry said May 24, 2013 during the Packers’ first week of offseason training activities. "I have to be out there on the field to help my teammates. I wasn’t able to be out there on the field to do that. Most importantly, I have a chip on my shoulder. I want to be out there and help any way I can and be a force out there on the field." Perry only played in six games as a rookie due to injuries, but he was hopeful that those issues would be behind him. Given the Packers’ plans — and need — for him to be a disruptive force opposite Clay Matthews, Perry was ranked No. 5 in FOXSportsWisconsin.com’s "Most Important Packers in 2013" pre-training camp series. Green Bay was counting on Perry to not just be healthy and available in 2013, but to also be a difference-maker. At times during training camp, Perry showed why it can be easy for the team to get excited about his potential. He’s so strong as a pass-rusher that he can simply bully a would-be blocker backwards and into the pocket. However, Perry was mostly quiet in practices and received just one ‘Honorable Mention’ on Day 10 of FOXSportsWisconsin.com’s Training Camp Report series.

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Upon further review: Want to know how good Perry can be? Watch the film of the Packers’ Week 5 win over the Detroit Lions. Despite playing just 58.8 percent of the snaps in that game, Perry made his presence felt with two sacks and one forced fumble. In his first sack, Perry was lined up outside right, immediately got past left tackle Riley Reiff with a speed move, got held (and almost completely tackled) by Reiff and still took down quarterback Matthew Stafford for a 7-yard loss. And it took Perry less than 2.5 seconds to get the sack, leaving Stafford little time to react. Later in that same game, Perry again got to the outside of Reiff, getting to Stafford with a swipe of his right arm and forcing a fumble. Even though Detroit recovered, it was still an 11-yard loss. Want to know why it’s fair to question whether Perry can ever be the player that the Packers envisioned when they drafted him with the 28th overall pick in 2012? First off, injuries. Perry broke a bone in his foot in October and missed five of the next six games. He was a lot less effective upon his return, as well. Additionally, it’s that Perry lacks a true position in Green Bay’s 3-4 defense. Perhaps the "elephant position" will be the answer, but Perry showed how he still struggles in open space (remember the play downfield in Chicago in Week 17?) and when not going straight after quarterbacks.

Overall 2013 grade: C-plus

Status for 2014: One-hundred percent chance of being on the Packers’ active roster to begin the 2014 season. Perry will turn 24 years old in April 2014, meaning there’s still a lot of time for him to become a good NFL player. He’ll need to stay healthy, but he’ll also need to become a more well-rounded player. Developing additional moves (the bull rush will only take him so far) and not being a liability in non-pass-rushing situations would do the trick. A big key for Perry in 2014 will be finding out if he’s able to use the elephant position to his advantage. Can defensive coordinator Dom Capers find ways to use Perry that allows him to use his strengths without exposing his weaknesses? Having a full, healthy season would help answer a lot of unanswered questions that remain about Perry, too.

Next: Defensive lineman Ryan Pickett

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