When the Green Bay Packers selected Nick Perry with their first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, they envisioned him and Clay Matthews being their version of LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison.
Prior to the draft, the 270-pound Perry made it clear that he’d rather play with his hand in the ground in a 4-3 scheme.
“I prefer 4-3,” Perry said. “I like to keep my hand in the dirt, but as long as I’m rushing and getting to quarterback I’m fine whatever it is.”
Last summer throughout training camp, Perry was brought along slowly by outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene. Athletically, the transition wasn’t much of a problem for Perry, who clocked a 4.55 40-yard dash and posted a 38.5-inch vertical at the NFL Scouting Combine.
The biggest obstacle for Perry was the mental aspect of playing in space after playing on the defensive line for four years at USC.
As a rookie in Green Bay, Perry was the opening-day starter at outside linebacker across from Matthews. Perry appeared in six games before suffering a wrist injury which caused him to miss the remainder of the season.
The highlight of Perry’s rookie year was the crushing blow he delivered to Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Perry wasn’t blocked on the play and drew a 15-yard penalty for hitting Luck on the chin; however, that type of aggressiveness is what the Packers envisioned when they spent the No. 28 overall pick on him a year ago.