AFI Combine Watch: Ole Miss DT Peria Jerry

He's long been considered one of the top two defensive tackles available in the 2009 NFL Draft, but Mississippi DT Peria Jerry is still battling to get respect. He was in Indianapolis to meet with teams and he spoke to the media and here's what he had to say...

Jerry was a decorated defensive tackle prospect coming out of South Panola High School in Batesville, Mississippi and he signed with the Rebels, but was unable to qualify. So he headed to Hargrave Military Academy to get his affairs in order and he admitted that the experience taught him a lesson he won't soon forget.

"I think it was a big transition for me," Jerry told reporters at the Combine. "I learned a lot at Hargrave, being accountable and basically learning how to work. Basically, it helped me throughout college."

And not just in the classroom.

Jerry also put the time in the weight room as well as on the field and it paid off as a senior when he posted 49 tackles and seven sacks and led the SEC and finished 11th in the country with 18 tackles-for-loss while earning First Team All-America honors from the Associated Press and ESPN.

With his natural strength and quickness, Jerry is a player on several teams' radars including the Falcons and he said he he can play the nose in a 3-4 or a three-tech (pass-rushing) defensive tackle in a 4-3.

"It really don't matter," Jerry said. "I only played in a 4-3 scheme, but I think I could learn a 3-4 scheme as well as I learned a 4-3 scheme. I don't think it will be a big difference.

"I think I can bring quickness, power, knowledge. I think I can bring a lot to a team."

Jerry said he interviewed with Jacksonville, Cleveland, the New York Jets and the New York Giants as well as several other teams.

If he lasts until the 24th selection he could be an ideal selection for the Falcons to fill their needs along the defensive line.

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