The Green Bay Packers‘ starting outside linebackers consist of two former first round picks. Second year player Nick Perry, a former defensive end in college, stands 6-3, 265 pounds. He anchors the edge in the run game, and pushes everything to the other side on passing downs, from his LOLB position. Strong as an ox (35 reps at the combine of 225 pounds), and fast for a man his size (4.64, 40-yard dash), Perry brings a combination of size, power and explosiveness the Packers so dearly need from that position.
Waiting on the other side is All-Pro Linebacker Clay Mathews, who has 42.5 sacks in his first four years in the league. Last Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, Matthews had three tackles for loss, including one sack.
At 6-3, 255 pounds, Matthews is both strong and quick, just like Perry. Both players came from USC, and were teammates for one year before Matthews headed to the pros. Now reunited in the NFL, it looks like Perry is healthy after an injury-plagued rookie season that cut his time on the field short after only six games. Now more comfortable at his new OLB position, he seems poised to have a breakout year.
At ages 27 (Matthews) and 23 (Perry), Green Bay has the youth, talent, and size to give opponents “double trouble” for years to come. The biggest difference between the two is Perry thus far has only a ‘bull rush’ move to get to the quarterback. Matthews has that same bull rush, plus several other moves that has made him the highest paid linebacker in the league.
The biggest question with Perry entering this season (in addition to his health) is did he acquire another pass rush move to go along with his tremendous bull rush? He did have a rip move as well as a swim move in college to build from but didn’t show those moves in his first season.
We now know he is healthy, but the second question wasn’t answered Sunday. Perhaps as the season begins to unfold this coming Sunday at Lambeau against Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins and beyond, that question will be answered with a resounding YES!
If he has, the rest of the league should take notice, because having these two men at the OLB positions coming at you, opposing teams will have to account for both players not just one.
You might also want to check out the lombardiave.com podcast that features four staffers from the site: Yours truly, Davey Miller; Dan Turczynski; Dan Dahlke; and host John Dewey. This week’s podcast focuses on the 49ers game as well as a look ahead to the Washington Redskins.