Matt Kalil and Nick Perry were teammates at the University of Southern California (USC Trojans). Now consider the irony with both of them being chosen by NFC North rivals in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. The Minnesota Vikings took Kalil with the fourth pick while the Green Bay Packers took Perry with the 28th pick.
The Packers needed another explosive pass-rush specialist to play alongside Clay Matthews in Dom Campers' 3-4 defense. At 6-3 and 250 pounds, Perry is an undersized defensive lineman who will make the transition from defensive end to linebacker. Perry is considered as a vulnerability in run defense. He also has no collegiate experience as a pass-defender because he played with his hand in the dirt.
The Packers are desperate to improve a pass rush that recorded 29 sacks en route to a 15-1 regular-season record in 2011. The underachieving performances from their defensive linemen and outside linebackers would be their undoing in a 37-20 defeat to the New York Giants in the 2011-12 NFC Divisional playoffs. Clay Matthews only had six sacks because opponents could concentrate on blocking him with little-to-no retaliation from the rest of the defense.
Perry could be an immediate starter for the Packers. Brad Jones and Erik Walden have been far too inconsistent while Frank Zombo doesn't have the durability for a starter. Vic So'oto and Jamari Lattimore are projects who could have an opportunity now that they've understudied for the past season.
The Packers decided against moving ahead of the Houston Texans at No. 26 in an attempt to take Whitney Mercilus. Courtney Upshaw was also undrafted after the first day. I have enough confidence in general manager Ted Thompson and his scouting team to make the right decision. I didn't watch much college football last season but I did favor Perry amongst these three players.
The Packers have plenty of work in the final six rounds. They need trench depth on their offensive line and defensive line along with a safety and maybe another running back to replace Ryan Grant. I'd also love for them to draft another linebacker who could specialize in pass coverage and cover running backs and tight ends like Brandon Pettigrew. Maybe So'oto or Lattimore can play that role?
The Packers will continue with their second-and-third-round draft choices on April 27.
Joshua Huffman graduated from Middle Tennessee State University as a marketing major in 2009. He's been a Middle Tennessee resident from 1986-88 and 2001-present. He lived in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin from 1988-01 and for approximately eight months in 2009-10 as he completed a 20-game volunteer position with the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers. His favorite sports organizations include the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cubs, Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans. He can be found on Twitter HERE.
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