Perryman’s most often mentioned fault is his pass rushing ability. His short arms give him almost no leverage against offensive linemen, and his lack of explosion on the vert and broad tests would suggest that he doesn’t have much lower body strength. However, momentum and upper body strength are always on his side. Watch him on this play.
He has so much upper body strength that he can just bowl this right tackle over. He doesn’t need to win the leverage battle because he’s so quick and strong that he can just use his momentum to get by or through his blockers.
Perryman is not the kind of linebacker you trust with getting a sack. He’s the guy you send on the rush to put pressure on the QB and hopefully force a bad throw. You can’t leave him unblocked because he will get to the QB, but even if you block him he’s still going to generate pressure.
Not a lot of analysts rate Perryman very highly in his pass rushing ability, but I think he’s better than given credit for. People don’t usually look at how a player generates pressure or causes a bad throw through his ability to just get into the backfield. You can see it right there in that FSU gif. Perryman gets into the backfield, drives the running back right into Winston’s face, and forces the bad pass.
But even if he’s not rushing the passer Perryman has the smarts to go after the QB when the time is right.
It’s a hail mary and Perryman is running a QB spy, so as soon as he sees the QB bring the ball down he’s making a mad dash for the sack and he gets it.
I wouldn’t say Perryman struggles in this area, but he’s certainly not excelling in it either. What Perryman tends to do is just cover his zone and allow nearby receivers to be left open, but then he’ll just hit them as soon as they catch it to minimize the gain.
However, I still see a lot of potential in him as a coverage linebacker. He has some good footwork when dropping back, his hips are pretty fluid when turning, and he reads the QB well from his zones.
Watch the QB’s eyes on this play. He’s staring down the receiver as he drops back. Perryman easily identifies the throw and just waits patiently to make his move. He wasn’t even that far out of the play, the QB just never saw him.
Where a lot of Perryman’s coverage problems come from is how much he tries to read the QB. He’s so intent on reading the QB from his zones that he’ll sometimes lets his coverage suffer. He’s very quick to react to the throws though and his assignment never gets left too open, but there are still tons of wide open catches being made in his zones. They don’t get far, but they still get the catch.
On this next play he goes into a back pedal and while it’s a pretty slow pedal, he does still stay close to the play. More importantly, he keeps his feet chopping quickly and close together so that when he does have to make a turn he can do so quickly. He then turns his hips well and gets up to speed quickly.
Where Perryman will struggle the most as a coverage backer is in his lateral agility and his hands. He’s not the most agile of players, which seems odd considering his low center of gravity, and it’s not hard for bigger tight ends to shed him in man coverage and get open. While Perryman’s straight line speed won’t hurt him as a coverage linebacker, his lateral speed certainly will. I think he’s limited to zone in the NFL. As for his hands, he has a tendency to juggle the ball when it hits his hands.
Not that he needs more consistency in his hands as a linebacker, but don’t expect him to rack up interceptions in the pros.
Pro Comparison and Draft Projection
I think that as a pro Perryman would best compare to London Fletcher. Perryman compares very favorably to Fletcher in both size and play style. Perryman is a run stopper and that’s what you’re going to get out of him. Much like Fletcher, Perryman could develop a long career as a punishing 4-3 SAM or a 3-4 MIKE and possibly even churn out a few Pro Bowls.
Draft Projection:I see Perryman as an early to mid second rounder with a slight chance of sneaking into the first or falling to the third. With the more pass oriented NFL it’s difficult to project where a run stopper like Perryman will go, but wherever he lands he’ll be a force in the run game.