04/29/2012 - General manager Ted Thompson's calling card in building a title contender the last few years has been stockpiling draft picks. Thompson broke from his April tradition this year and went on the offensive to bolster his dismal defense. Thompson traded up three times and used the Packers' first six of eight selections on defensive players. "We hope we helped all aspects of defense," Thompson said. Green Bay had the league's worst-ranked defense in 2011 but still managed to go 15-1. A porous pass rush that contributed to the Packers' premature end to the season early in the playoffs after they won the Super Bowl the previous year took precedence in the draft room. Thompson went for the "juice" of taking Southern Cal's Nick Perry in the first round to pair with Clay Matthews at outside linebacker. In turn, Thompson upgraded the defensive line and the Nick Collins-less secondary by moving up twice in the second round for Michigan State lineman Jerel Worthy and Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward. BEST PICK Linebacker Nick Perry: The Packers were desperate to take pressure off Matthews, who was held to a career-low six sacks last season. Perry will be counted on to start and deliver right away. - The Sports Xchange
Perry opted for the draft after being named USC's Defensive Lineman of the Year following a 2011 season in which he led the Pac-12 in sacks with 9.5.
Considered a 'tweener who could be an outside linebacker or defensive end, Perry wants to play the latter. So he added more than 10 pounds of lean muscle since the season ended to convince scouts.
Still, many believe he projects as a stand-up linebacker in a 3-4 defense, despite not showing instincts to play in the open. His natural athleticism was on display at the Combine, where he had an unofficial 10-yard time of 1.57 seconds and showed tremendous explosion with a 38.5-inch vertical jump, a mark worthy of a good wide receiver.
Scouts would also like to see more hustle on plays away and/or better conditioning as he seems to fatigue in the fourth quarter. Perry was a prized recruit after he led Detroit's King High School to a 14-0 season and a 2007 state championship with 147 tackles and 36 sacks, a Michigan prep record.
Pass rush: Has very good first step quickness and does a nice job in space. Has the footwork, body control and fluidity to quickly change directions. Does a nice job elevating and getting his hands up to knock down passes at the line of scrimmage. Works hard to collapse the pocket with a relentless motor. Brings aggressive playing style on every snap and doesn't quit. Lacks elite size and length -- undersized and can be swallowed by larger blockers.
Run defense: Read/reacts quickly with good awareness and recognition skills to chase down the play from different angles. Understands leverage and does a nice job staying balanced, getting lower than blockers and underneath their pads, usually attracting holding penalties.
Explosion: A quick, flexible athlete with sharp burst off the snap. Shows the natural bend and coordination to dip his shoulder and consistently win the edge. Doesn't always time-up his explosion and isn't a sudden pass rusher.
Strength: Uses his powerful upper body and hands to force his way into the pocket. Does a nice job swatting blocker's hands/arms with his violent, active hands. Struggles to disengage at the point of attack and will never be the strongest on the field -- functional strength is a question mark.
Tackling: Plays smart and disciplined, staying at home and restraining from biting on fakes -- listens and applies coaching. Good hand strength to secure tackles. Lacks ideal arm length, but works hard to wrap and tackle through the ballcarrier.
Intangibles: Projects best as a stand up linebacker in a 3-4 scheme at the next level, but doesn't have much experience in this area and there could be a learning curve -- can he play with his hand on the ground at the next level? Lined up in both the two and three-point stance in college. Has good production on his resume, capping off his career with a strong junior season, leading the Pac-12 in sacks. Has questionable instincts when asked to drop in coverage. Appears fatigued late in games and needs to show better conditioning.
-- Dane Brugler