Nick Perry arrived in New York on Tuesday, one of 26 players invited by the NFL to take part in activities leading up to Thursday’s opening round of the draft.
The former USC defensive end will meet Commissioner Roger Goodell, visit a children’s hospital and the New York Stock Exchange and appear on a morning television show before the prime-time announcement of first-round selections.
Perry knows there will be excitement — but also possibly heartache — in the green room at Radio City Music Hall as players wait for their names to be called.
“I’ve heard a lot of things about people sweating and having panic attacks,” Perry said in a recent phone interview. “I just want to enjoy it. “I know anything can happen.”
Former USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil is expected to be the first local player selected.
Kalil, also among the 26 invitees to New York, has been projected as high as the third pick by the Minnesota Vikings. But he reportedly worked out recently for the Cleveland Browns, who have the fourth pick, and there is no predicting how far players will fall or move up as teams engineer draft-day trades to choose particular players or stockpile picks.
Perry has been regarded as an elite pro prospect after recording 91/2 sacks for USC in 2011, his first injury-free season with the Trojans. His stock rose after an impressive performance in February at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis and in drills at USC’s pro day workout in March.
He has spent most of his time training in Arizona but also was summoned by several NFL teams to tour their facilities and meet with executives. Perry declined to identify those teams.
He recently visited family in Michigan to relax before the final run-up to the draft. “It was good to get my mind off of football for a while,” he said. “I was able to clear my head.”
Defensive linemen DaJohn Harris, Christian Tupou and Armond Armstead, running back Marc Tyler, tight end Rhett Ellison, receiver Brandon Carswell and linebacker Chris Galippo are among other former USC players hoping to be selected in the seven rounds of the draft, or to be signed as free agents.
Tight end Cory Harkey is among UCLA players anticipating an opportunity.
Harkey, who caught only one pass last season but is considered a punishing blocker, said he had received calls from several teams but was “just trying to be level-headed” as the three-day draft approaches.
He does not intend to be glued to the television or computer.
“Maybe flip it on every now and then,” he said, “but just go about my day and not try to drive myself crazy.”
Running back Derrick Coleman, receivers Nelson Rosario and Taylor Embree and safety Tony Dye are among other UCLA players hoping to be drafted or signed.
“Whether you get drafted or not,” Harkey said, “you still have to make the team.”