Denzel Perryman started his career for the Miami Hurricanes as a weak side linebacker but he has worked to get bigger and stronger each year and now will slide inside to middle linebacker in a 4-3 scheme for his senior year with the opportunity to be the next great Canes backer in a proud proud tradition that goes back a few decades. He is going to the face of that defense this coming year and will have ample opportunities to continue making plays and have a bigger year than he did as a junior.
Perryman had considered going into the NFL Draft and may have ranked relatively highly considering the class of linebackers, but the overall depth of talent made it look like a smart decision to return. As an open field player, Perryman is great. His range is not ideal but he reads plays well and is able to get to them quickly, showing that he can sift through trash, find the ball carrier and make plays.
The issues that Perryman needs to focus on in his senior year at Coral Gables are how he takes on and sheds blocks and what he can do in pass coverage. Perryman has shown he can take on and shed blocks but there are entire games where he does not shed a single block and is washed out far too easily. In pass coverage, Perryman has to get better at feeling the plays and where opposing receivers are going and making more plays on the ball.
Overall, Perryman is a fantastic tackler that will make just about every play he should and should make for a great highlight package. The questions that could drastically impact Perryman’s stock in the 2015 NFL Draft will be how much he improves when it comes to fighting through blocks and if he can get better at making plays on the football in the passing game. The potential difference could mean the difference between a third day pick and potentially going as high as the second round.
Vitals & Build
Date of birth not listed
- 6’ 242lbs (listed)
Perryman has a strong build and bulked up to the point where the coaching staff had to tell him to stop as he made his move to the middle. He is a pretty good athlete and shows good but not great overall speed. Perryman is quicker than he is fast and shows good acceleration that allows him to look faster in short areas, able to close distance quickly. His long speed can get exposed somewhat when he is forced to make plays out wide or in coverage.
Perryman has a good amount of strength and when he employs it effectively, he can show a great deal of power. At times, he will appear to be somewhat complacent and be overpowered, but this appears more of an effort issue than a strength one. His height and length are not ideal but they should not hold him back, especially playing up in the box.
Perryman may be relatively closed to being maxed out, but he does not really need to add much more weight. He may be in a position where he is just trying to maximize what he has in terms of his athleticism and getting the most from what he has already built with his body.
Perryman is an outstanding tackler, especially when it comes to the open field. When he thinks he can finish a tackle that is being made, he can get sloppy, going for a home run hit as opposed to securing the tackle, but otherwise, he is consistent with his technique. Not only does he do a great job of breaking down to get balanced and avoid getting beat with quickness, but he does it so quickly that he barely slows down to adjust and ensure he makes the play. Additionally, Perryman demonstrates that players can make form tackles while still hitting with power and being able to make an impact.
The open field is the time where he needs to be at his best and he is extremely effective there. He breaks down, sinks his hips, wraps up and drives through contact, able to bring some pop without having to fly downhill to do it. When he is coming downhill, he still gets low, wraps up and drives, so his best hits are also good, clean tackles.
Not only in the game of football just in general, but one that is concerned about tackling the right way for the sake of avoiding injuries and penalties, Perryman is well equipped to do the job at the next level. In a world where good tacklers are becoming rare commodities, Perryman is a clinician on how to do it.
- The perfect tackle.
Perryman does a good job when he is protected and kept clean by the defensive line. He tends to slide well, get in position and make plays. Occasionally, his reads can get him in trouble and he can take himself out of the appropriate gap, but for the most part he is effective in this area.
Perryman shows good range and reads well so he gets the most out of his speed. He does not quite go sideline to sideline but he is pretty close and will make his fair share of plays out wide. There are times when opponents are can work to the sideline, he can have trouble keeping up with them, sometimes due to his angle. Perryman shows far better speed when he can accelerate and work downhill and he does a pretty good job of sifting his way through bodies to get in and make a good, impact tackle.
- Here is a great example of Perryman operating in space. He diagnoses the play quickly, shows good range, gets in position but breaks down and makes a great form tackle in the D gap for next to no gain. This is Perryman at his best.
The problem for Perryman is what happens when he is not kept clean and has to fight through opposing blocks. There are a number of concerns here. First, he was at his best in this department early in the year. The game against Florida might have been his best, especially in this respect. Perryman never took on much in terms of direct blocks but he was able to slip blocks or fight through contact to get to plays and make tackles.
- Here, he slips the block from an offensive lineman and has enough acceleration and speed where he slightly overruns the play and uncharacteristically makes the tackle look more difficult than he normally does while still making the play.
Not only does he tend to get shielded far too easily from plays as the season wears on, but he gets washed out too effectively. It is unclear if this was caused by injury, effort or both, but what is clear is that it was awful at times. In a few situations, he is getting taken out of plays by wide receivers and running backs.
- Here is a particularly bad example of Perryman, highlighting the issue. Virginia Tech’s D.J. Coles is a bigger receiver, but Perryman did little to try to get out of it and a huge run ensued in part because of it. Chalk it up to a bad play, but this was an ugly trend for Perryman late in the year.
- Later in the same game, Perryman gets blocked and ultimately pancaked by the H-back resulting in a Hokie touchdown.
Kept clean, Perryman makes the plays he should make and looks good, putting together some highlight tape plays. Especially later in the year, when asked to do dirty work and beat blockers, he got worse, which is not the trend anyone wants to see. Perryman has shown he can do it, but needs to get better at it and continue to do it the entire year to really show he can be a true linebacker going to the NFL.
Perryman has some ability in coverage, but he always seems to be a beat late. He can get to his spots in zone relatively quickly but he does not have the best feel when it comes to where plays are going and reacts late to the play. Perryman will attempt to read the quarterback’s eyes and he will break on the ball, but a combination of not being quick enough on the reaction or the break, he has issues getting to the football.
Perryman does do a nice job of tackling the pass and will come downhill to minimize the damage done by opposing receivers but to this point.
- Here, Perryman gets to his drop quickly, reads the screen, comes downhill in a hurry and makes another good, open field tackle with little wasted motion. He is able to cover a little over 10 yards quickly, secure the play and stop the screen for a gain of just two or three. His teammate hesitates while he comes through and just makes the play, setting up third and short. Great play.
Perryman has not shown to be a big threat to make plays on the ball in coverage. This is a little concerning, given that he played weak side linebacker to start his career in Miami. Moving to the middle might help him a little bit, but he needs to read faster, feel where opponents are going better and break quicker to be much of a threat on passing downs in coverage.
Perryman has more ability when it comes to man coverage and can do a nice job against backs out of the backfield. He has been asked to cover the slot on occasion and if he can get a jam and redirect, he can be effective, but is usually dropping into zone from there.
Pass Rush & Blitz Ability
Perryman has shown a great deal of ability when it comes to coming on the blitz. He has great burst attacking up the middle and can get on the quarterback extremely fast. Both in overload type situations and on delays, Perryman has been effective in creating pressure as well as getting to the passer. And much like when he makes plays anywhere else, Perryman is good at capitalizing on opportunities.
He has experience coming off of the edge, but he does his best work attacking in the A or B gap. It is a little surprising that he was not given more opportunities to do this given his success when he did. Perryman shows a good sense for attacking inside, has decent vision on how to exploit holes in the blocking scheme and how he finds the ball carrier.
- This is not a difficult play in terms of how it opens up for him just as they drew it up, but he shows the explosive speed downhill and he makes that subtle adjustment, breaks down, sinks his hips and makes a good tackle with pop on Logan Thomas here for the sack. This was one of the plays that accounted for Perryman’s 1.5 sacks on the year.
- This is the other one, which is the half sack. Perryman is either on a delayed blitz or working in a short zone with spy responsibilities, sees an opportunity, finds his way to Thomas and hits him with a teammate ultimately finishing him off for the big sack forcing fourth and long.
Perryman has been an integral part of their punt coverage team and is one of the first guys down the field to make plays on the returner or down the football. He should be able to help a team immediately in this facet.
The clips were provided by DraftBreakdown.com