A dominant tackler and defensive leader. A hard-hitting defensive leader. #52 for the Miami Hurricanes. Those phrases could describe two players, Ray Lewis and Denzel Perryman. Ray Lewis hung up his cleats after winning the Superbowl with the Ravens after the 2012 season, putting the final touches on a Hall of Fame career. Perryman is preparing to put on an NFL uniform for the first time after this year's draft. Does Denzel Perryman have what it takes to be a dominant linebacker in the NFL? The answer is yes.
Perryman is an explosive player that many scouts have rated in the middle of the first round. Such a rating does a disservice to Perryman's talent. I think Perryman is worthy of a top 10 pick and could be in the Pro Bowl discussion on a yearly basis in the right system. He reminds me of Vontaze Burfict in ways; he always plays with a chip on his shoulder, but sometimes his emotions get the better of him. For example, in a game against Duke, Perryman dropped an interception, and immediately did pushups on the field, earning himself an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Perryman's response? Come up with an interception (video here). An NFL coaching staff will have to make sure they keep him composed on the field to avoid penalties for stuff like that during games, but there are plenty of players in the NFL that are passionate. Just look at Burfict or Dez Bryant!
I love Perryman's sheer athletic ability as a prospect. The guy is passionate, and always seeks to punish his opponents. Perryman's tackles are fundamentally beautiful, and on the occasional play where he fails to wrap, he hits his opponent hard enough to bring them down. Here's some film. How good can Perryman be? Comparisons to Lawrence Taylor, Ray Lewis, and James Harrison come to mind. However, teams will have to make sure to keep Perryman somewhat calm at the next level given the NFL's current tendency to penalize players for unleashing big hits. That being said, Perryman is the type of fundamentally sound, hard hitting defensive player that will make an impact on any NFL team. Perryman knows one speed, and plays at full speed even in practice, often unleashing punishing hits on his teammates during scrimmages.
Denzel Perryman isn't a sack machine. He's generated 4.5 sacks over his college career. Perryman's not a prototypical pass-rushing type of player. He's a true linebacker. In four seasons, Perryman has 343 tackles (including two 100+ tackle seasons as a junior and senior), and 26 tackles for loss. Perryman has also forced 7 fumbles and picked off two passes in his college career. These are solid numbers for a linebacker prospect. He is also extremely talented as a pass defender. His ability to read the field reminds me a bit of Brian Urlacher, but Urlacher was a bit faster. As an instinctive, physical, well-rounded linebacker, Perryman could be the next big thing to come out of Miami. He will be in the running for defensive rookie of the year if a team gives him a chance to start. I guarantee it. Put him high on your draft boards this spring, because this kid is going to make some noise.
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