Saints Free Agency

Film Study: Saints Should Avoid Signing GB’s Nick Perry

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Oct 20, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers linebacker Nick Perry (53) sacks Chicago Bears quarterback Matt Barkley (12) during the third quarter at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 26-10. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 20, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers linebacker Nick Perry (53) sacks Chicago Bears quarterback Matt Barkley (12) during the third quarter at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 26-10. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New Orleans Saints are in the market for a pass rusher. And on paper, Nick Perry looks the part.

But Perry’s numbers are inflated, and paint a prettier picture than does his tape. The New Orleans Saints would do well to look elsewhere for help along the edge.

Perry is a former first round pick, and 2016 was his breakout year. His 11 sacks are tied for 8th best in the league. And those numbers would likely be even higher if a hand injury hadn’t knocked Perry out of the Packers base defense in Week 13. He played the rest of the season with a cast, and still managed to rack up 3 sacks in those last games, having been relegated to pass-rushing duties.

Simply put, Perry has strength and sound tendencies but lacks creativity as a pass rusher. And he has concerningly slow feet. He gets easily engaged and swallowed up by TEs. And when he drops back into coverage, as GB occasionally had him do, he’s exposed.

Strength

If Perry is going to get a sack, it’s going to be with his strength. Even if he manages to get around the edge, he doesn’t do so with an upfield explosion and bend. He’ll punch the tackle off balance and use that advantage to sneak past. That’s not a bad technique, and I’d be happy with it if it happened more often. But his lack of speed and moves makes this move predictable. It seldom works outside of garbage-time situations.

Perry’s strength does allow him to play a role in run defense. He doesn’t overpursue and can set the edge with some consistency. Because his go-to move is the bullrush, he is always upright and able to read and react to the ballcarrier.

But even so, he lets himself get engaged too easily. Much of that seems to be due to a poor motor. Green Bay often takes him off the field for extended periods to keep him fresh, yet Perry still looks gassed and lethargic as a rusher.

Lack of moves, speed

Perry’s lack of speed is, to my mind, his greatest weakness. He has incredibly slow feet. He has

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one pass-rush move that isn’t purely based on strength, and that’s a spin move. And wow is it slow.

When Perry drops back into coverage, it reminds me of Kikaha. No lateral quickness, and limited straight-line speed. He occasionally manages to stuff a TE at the line of scrimmage, but just as often whiffs on the press and gets beat downfield. And when he’s matched up against a RB it’s bad news.

And what Kikaha lacks in speed he more than makes up for with technique and motor. Perry has neither.

Inflated Sack numbers

11 sacks is nothing to scoff at. But too many of Perry’s sacks came at the end of games that had gotten away from the other team. And of course, any numbers will be inflated by coverage sacks or by pressure brought from teammates.

But I was surprised after watching the tape that Perry managed 11 sacks on the year. He just doesn’t have that sort of pass-rushing talent to be up there in that company.

And over the years, that’s been the case. Before 2016 Perry’s career high in sacks was 4, in 2013. If you ask me, chances are Perry regresses back to the norm next year. 2016 is an outlier more than anything else.

My conclusion

After arguing yesterday that the Saints could find a better fit for their needs than Melvin Ingram, I hit a stumbling block. I hadn’t watched much of Perry’s film, but I was hoping to find an emerging talent at pass rusher. I did not.

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Even if Perry came cheap I wouldn’t be excited about the prospect. And I don’t imagine he would even come cheap. 11 sacks puts him at the top of the free agent list. Some team will make a push for him. And I just hope it’s not the Saints.

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