Green Bay Packers first-round draft pick Nick Perry is expected to start at outside linebacker opposite fellow former USC Trojan Clay Matthews. The pair will look to wreak havoc by creating pressure on opposing quarterbacks and end up with handfuls of sacks.
Perry has been drafted to fit the mold of outside linebacker, despite playing defensive end in college.
Matthews, on the other hand, played mostly linebacker with an ability to play each linebacker position as well as some stand-up line work.
While both players came into the league to play outside linebacker for the Packers, they are fairly different prospects.
At the combine, Matthews measured at 6'3" and 240 pounds, while Perry came in with the same height at 6'3", but 31 pounds heavier at 271 pounds.
Perry entered the combine with hopes of playing defensive end in a 4-3 defense, so the bulk was extremely necessary if that hope was to be realized. Being drafted to play linebacker in a 3-4, Perry will likely shed some of those pounds but will remain heavier than Matthews.
Speed and Power
While the players differ with regard to size, they both rely on a combination of speed and power to be successful pass-rushers. Both players use their rare mix of size and speed.
As Packers fans have seen since Matthews was drafted, his preferred method of shedding blockers is his bull-rush move. Perry also heavily relied on a bull-rush to get to the quarterback at USC.
Use in College
While the players are similar in their pass-rushing abilities, they were used quite differently in college. While Perry played defensive end and did his pass-rushing from there, Matthews was used in more ways than just as a pass-rusher or defensive lineman. Matthews showed ability to play each linebacker position, as he was used as a utility, fill-in linebacker during his junior year.
Use in the Pros
The Packers have already adjusted their defense to properly fit Perry and his talents into the defense. Matthews has been moved from the left side to the right, where he started his NFL career.
Matthews has shown an improved ability to play as an occasional coverage linebacker. This is no small benefit for the Packers, as they can use Matthews to drop back in coverage more and use Perry more for pass-rushing as he adapts to the speed of the NFL game.
While the players had their similarities in college, they are pretty different prospects, but they will be asked to do much of the same in the NFL. The pair of Trojans are likely to lock down the Packers outside linebacker positions for years to come.
With much of the Packers' defensive success reliant on how well Perry can adapt to the NFL game, the Packers must hope that Perry has as much success in his rookie season as Matthews did in his.