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Denzel Perryman, the veteran of 36 starts at inside linebacker for the University of Miami, enters the 2015 NFL Draft after a productive career at “The U.” In 2014, he totaled 110 tackles, 9.5 TFL and 2 sacks, bringing his career totals to 240 tackles, 27 TFL and 4.5 sacks. Perryman was named Third Team All-American and First Team All-ACC in 2014; in 2013, he was named Honorable Mention All-American and, again, First Team All-ACC. He was voted the team’s defensive MVP that year. Physically, Perryman is every bit the part of an inside linebacker in the NFL. He packs a well-developed 242 lbs in his 6’0” frame with an athletic looking physique and build. He has the kind of mass needed to holdup in tight quarters and to deliver punishing blows to oncoming linemen and ball carriers. Athletically, Perryman is “good enough,” showing the range needed to compete from sideline to sideline; He struggles against smaller, shifty running backs in coverage, but his playmaking range is good enough to be a reliable defender in the middle of a defense. Perryman combines the size, speed and initial quickness required of starting-caliber middle/inside backers. In addition to his sound athletic ability, Perryman is a reliable tackler who finishes the play when in a position to do so. There are times when he tries to deliver too big of a blow, resulting in a missed tackle. But on the whole, Perryman pops and takes down the ball carrier. He has a good jolt on contact and possesses the necessary explosion in his hips to jar the ball free. Instinctually, Perryman is reliable most of the time. He is quick to diagnose the play’s design and generally takes the proper first step when tracking the ball carrier. At times, Perryman is caught “guessing” and can leave the second level exposed for a big play. I don’t think it’s a glaring problem, but he’ll have to be coached into a more disciplined style in the NFL. His most glaring issue is shedding blocks, as there are times when he makes the right read, takes the right steps, but simply cannot shake the opposing lineman. He will have to learn how to use his hands more and not rely solely on his athleticism and power to penetrate and disrupt. In coverage, Perryman displays a good understanding of route concepts and development, and is sound when responsible for the bigger, less athletic tight end. When responsible for the running back, Perryman is too easily shaken and is stuck playing catch up. At this point, he looks more like a 2 down player with upside; He can’t be consistently relied upon to stick with a running back. That said, he’s not going to be a glaring liability in coverage and his ability to pop the ball free is something that will be appealing to NFL defenses. In the running game, Perryman possess the ability to quickly diagnose and disrupt. He has the kind of initial quickness needed to split the gap and make a play. In addition, he doesn’t shy away from contact. He’s not afraid to scrap in a phone booth, although (as stated above) he can get tied up with the lineman for too long.
BOTTOM LINE: Denzel Perryman is one of the most pro-ready prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft class who possesses the necessary skill set to start immediately as a rookie. His skills translate to both the 43 and 34, as he has the range needed to go sideline to sideline as a MLB in a 43 front. He is a leader and a guy that will produce on Sundays. Perryman has his critics, and some of the criticism is warranted. But at the end of the day, he is a hard-nosed, hard-hitting linebacker who will help a team much more than he’ll hurt. He looks the part of a long-time starter in the NFL who is likely to outplay his draft slot.
GRADE: 7.8 (High-2nd Round)
-Submitted by Bryan Perez (@FirstRoundGrade)