Perry Will Be Compared To Pass-Rushing Peers

Did the Packers make the right decision by drafting Nick Perry? That answer won't be known for a year or more. Matchups against Bruce Irvin, Shea McClellin, Whitney Mercilus, Andre Branch and Zach Brown will provide easy comparisons, and a few others will merit close looks this year.

The Green Bay Packers had a definite need at outside linebacker, and they attempted to fill that gaping hole in the lineup by selecting USC's Nick Perry in the first round last month.

Whether the Packers made the right choice won't be known for a year, two years or even three years down the road.

With that said, it will be interesting to chart the progress of these eight players, all of whom were linked to Green Bay or will play Green Bay at some point this season.

No. 15 — Bruce Irvin, Seattle

Irvin, a one-trick pony of a speed rusher with a litany of off-the-field issues, was seen as the biggest reach in the draft. However, Irvin's lightning-fast get-off should be a major asset at Seattle, which has the loudest homefield advantage in the league. Sure, Irvin might be a total nonfactor against the run, but he'll be hell on wheels at home on third-and-10. The Packers will get a taste of his speed when they visit Seattle on Sept. 24.

No. 18 — Melvin Ingram, San Diego

Ingram, who had 10 sacks and scored three touchdowns to be a consensus All-American in 2011, surprisingly fell to the Chargers at No. 18. According to the trade value chart that teams use during the draft, the 18th pick is worth 900 points and the Packers' No. 28 selection is worth 660 points — a difference of 240 points. Green Bay could have moved up by trading its first- and second-round picks (and gotten a fourth-rounder in return). Ingram, who played linebacker, defensive end and defensive tackle for the Gamecocks, will play outside linebacker in the Chargers' 3-4 scheme.

No. 19 — Shea McClellin, Chicago

Of the players the Packers predicted had a reasonable chance of falling to them, McClellin was the player they coveted, a source told Packer Report about two weeks before the draft. McClellin, a defensive end at Boise State who looked natural at linebacker at the Senior Bowl, was considered the best fit to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme of the numerous "hybrid" types in the draft. The Bears, however, selected him to be a pass-rushing defensive end. The pass-happy Packers figure to see him two or three times a year for the next decade.

No. 26 — Whitney Mercilus, Houston

Mercilus was the Packers' initial target, following the all-star games, a source told us in January. Mercilus was a one-year wonder at Illinois, but what a one year it was, with 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles. The entire Packers defense forced 12 fumbles in 16 regular-season games. Ultimately, most scouts thought Mercilus would be better as a 4-3 defensive end but he'll play outside linebacker in the Texans' 3-4 scheme. Interestingly, the Packers passed on Brooks Reed in the first round in 2011, and he had a solid first year playing outside linebacker for Houston. Mercilus and Reed figure to be the starting outside linebackers when Green Bay visits Houston on Oct. 14.

No. 35 — Courtney Upshaw, Baltimore

Among the Packers' choices at No. 28: Perry, the explosive USC defensive end with the ridiculous testing numbers, or Upshaw, the wrecking ball linebacker from Alabama who's a better football player but tested poorly after showing up to his pro day out of shape. The Packers ultimately went with Perry's outrageous upside. Both figure to start at outside linebacker for powerhouse teams, with the Achilles injury to reigning Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs giving Upshaw a chance to become an immediate starter for the Ravens.

No. 38 — Andre Branch, Jacksonville

Branch had 10.5 sacks as a senior at Clemson, and showed the explosive athleticism at the Scouting Combine and pro day to give teams reason to consider him as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Instead, he landed with the Jaguars, where he'll likely take the oft-injured Aaron Kampman's spot in the lineup at defensive end when they visit Green Bay on Oct. 28.

No. 52 — Zach Brown, Tennessee

Brown played outside linebacker in the Tar Heels' 4-3 scheme, which is what he'll play with the Titans. In 2011, he led the team in tackles and was second with 5.5 sacks. An incredible athlete, he won state titles in the 100 and 200 meters in high school, owns North Carolina's record in the 60-meter dash when he competed on the track team in 2009 and ran an incredible 4.37 in the 40 at his pro day. The Titans visit Green Bay on Dec. 23.

No. 59 — Vinny Curry, Philadelphia

As a senior at Marshall, Curry posted 11 sacks and 22 tackles for losses to be named Conference USA's Defensive Player of the Year. Only Mercilus forced more fumbles than Curry's seven. Curry, who will play defensive end in Philadelphia's 4-3 scheme, was selected with the pick the Packers shipped to Philadelphia to acquire Jerel Worthy at No. 51.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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