2015 NFL Draft Scouting Report – Denzel Perryman, ILB Miami(FL)


The University of Miami’s middle linebackerDenzel Perryman, entered the season as one of the biggest names at the position in the country.  After growing up in Coral Gables, Perryman will leave the Hurricanes having played in 47 games in his career, starting in 37.  Perryman was named as an All-ACC player as an outside linebacker in 2013 and then as an inside linebacker in 2014.

This year, Perryman has been the team’s main inside linebacker.  The Hurricanes operate in both even and odd fronts.  In even fronts, Perryman patrols the middle of the field.  In odd fronts, Perryman’s role can range from lining up over one of the guards to playing near the line of scrimmage that can be a strong side option or an extra pass rusher depending on the situation.

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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 a frustration issue than one of effort.  For the most part, Perryman plays with a high level of effort and will stay with plays, giving second and third efforts when necessary, especially when it is running an opponent down.

His height and length are not ideal but they should not hold him back, especially playing up in the box.  Perryman is pretty much ready to go from a physical strength standpoint and is probably going to be more focused on maximizing his athleticism.


Perryman’s tackling has taken a step back this year.  Last year, Perryman was as good a tackler as there was in all of college football.  Perhaps trying to do too much or putting too much pressure on himself to make big plays, Perryman’s technique is not nearly as consistent as it was a year ago.

Perryman still shows how dangerous a tackler he can be.  He squares up the opponent, sink his hips, wraps up the ball carrier and explodes through contact, driving his legs all the way through the hit.  There is no question he knows how to tackle and if he gets back to the form he showed as a junior, he could be a breath of fresh air in a league with so few effective tacklers.

  • Perryman knifes into the backfield and goes chest to chest with the ball carrier, wrapping him up and driving him to the ground; just a great play all around.

Regardless of the reason why Perryman stopped using good fundamentals as a tackler in certain situations, he did stay on his feet, will put his head down and ends up lunging at the ball carrier.  And while some of those plays are at difficult angles, there are enough examples where it is just Perryman and a ball carrier in a confined space, where Perryman comes up empty.

  • Perryman finds his way to the ball carrier, but opts to put his head down and try to lunge with the shoulder bomb instead of sinking his hips and making the form, impact tackle.  The result; he misses badly.
  • Perryman v. Ameer Abullah at the line of scrimmage and Perryman is left grasping at air.

Run Support

At his best, Perryman flies around and can make plays on the ball carrier while he is protected by the defensive line.  Unfortunately, when opposing blockers are able to spill out free, Perryman has a difficult time taking on and shedding blocks.  He has a difficult time shedding and when he does, it is often too slow to make much of an impact.

Whether he is blitzing the run and able exploit a hole or has an opportunity to chase down the ball carrier, Perryman can make explosive, highlight plays and potentially cause turnovers.

  • Perryman makes a quick diagnoses of the play, comes downhill full speed and breaks down to make the tackle for loss.
  • On 3rd & 1, it just comes down to Perryman against the tailback.  Perryman attacks quickly, but is patient enough to adjust to where the ball carrier is going, wrap up his legs and take him to the ground, forcing 4th down.

Perryman will also show some issues when it comes to reading plays.  He can be fooled by misdirection or has times where he will be one of the last players on the field to move, trying to make sure he is sure of what he sees.

  • Perryman makes a poor read here and on this and curiously goes inside looking at the quarterback instead of staying honest to his assignment, Adbullah.  This makes an easy block for the fullback, pinning Perryman.  Fortunately, his teammates are there to clean up the mess.

Perryman has a few issues when it comes to taking on and shedding blocks.  First, he does not slip many blocks and have a difficult time avoiding getting blocked in the first place.  Secondly, his hand use when taking on blocks is inconsistent.  His hands are not terribly fast and unless he has some momentum, tend not to be overly powerful.  As a result, he gets moved backward too often and he can have a hard time getting his hands free to try and shed.  Both of these issues make it so that when Perryman is able to shed, it tends to be too late to make a difference.

  • The center goes right to the second level and is able to engulf Perryman, driving him backward and in part because of smart running by Abdullah, makes him unable to figure out which way to try to get off of the block.

Physically, Perryman has a lot of tools that could enable him to be an effective run defender.  He does a nice job as a run and chase linebacker, but if he can improve his hands and quickness to shed and avoid blockers, it would allow him to be far more successful in a phone booth.  Perryman will have his fair share of highlight plays but he has a difficult time being consistently effective in the middle of a defense.


For the most part, Perryman is utilized in zone coverage.  He is really comfortable playing with his eyes on the quarterback and does an excellent job of seeing where plays are going.  There are times when his agility does not allow him to adjust in small spaces to make plays and give up a lot of separation as a result.

Perryman has shown he can be utilized in man coverage, especially picking up opponents out of the backfield.  He has a pretty good sense of how opponents will run routes, can get a jam and run with them, but again, he can be beaten with quickness.

  • Perryman mirrors the route well here, reacts well and stays in the hip pocket of the intended receiver and positions himself where he can get his arm inside to try to deflect the pass.
  • Perryman comes up field but is responsible for the back when he releases into his route.  He gets a poor jam on the back, which helps him to create separation, catch the ball and then Perryman is unable to make the tackle as he goes too high, which allows them to pick up the first down on 3rd & 5 and extend the drive.  This is a poor play from start to finish.

Perryman will give up plays in pass defense, but especially as a zone defender, he does a fantastic job of making hits soon after they have caught the ball.  He can separate the receiver from the football, which has netted him some nice pass breakups as well as fumbles.  And if opponents take him lightly, he can end up getting his hands on the football and his ability to read the opposing passers’ eyes can sometimes allow him to be a threat in underneath opportunities.

One area where Perryman really excels is when he is in a short zone or being used as a spy.  He reads screen plays quickly, mirrors well with quarterbacks and shows a good sense on when he should go ahead and attack the quarterback as opposed to sit back and wait.  This has allowed Perryman to knock down some passes and clean up some plays for either a loss or minimal gain.

Pass Rush & Blitz Ability

Last year, Perryman showed a good amount of ability to blitz, but it was curiously underutilized.  This year, the Hurricanes used it regularly and to great effect.  Perryman has great timing on delayed blitzes and his explosion enables him to cover ground quickly and potentially allow him to not only sack the quarterback but put a huge hit on them.  For the most part, he sees where holes are opening and does a good job of attacking the most vulnerable spot in the protection scheme.

  • This is just a sprint to the quarterback and Perryman shoves the lineman out of his way as he bears down and hits the quarterback.

With a head of steam, Perryman can be extremely powerful when it comes to hitting an offensive lineman and especially against running backs staying in for blocks.  He is strong enough where he can potentially knock a blocker in to the quarterback or simply treat them as a speed bump.  Better hand use would enable him to shed more quickly and be a bigger threat and allow him to finish more plays with better success.

One area where Perryman does a great job is trying to knock down passes.  He not only is consistent when it comes to putting his arms up to try to deflect passes but he reads the quarterback’s eyes and at least obstruct his view if not get in the way to knock down the pass.

System Fit

  • 4-3 Middle Linebacker

There is no question that Perryman does his best work when he has a defensive line in front of him that can keep the offensive line occupied and allow him to fly around and make plays.  Athletically, he has the tools to do the job and could potentially help a team on every down.  This seems like the best situation for him, but he needs to improve to convince an NFL team they can play him there.

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  • 4-3 Weak Side Linebacker

This is the position that Perryman started his career playing in college.  He would be an asset in terms of making plays in space against the run, but so far, questions with his ability to make plays on the football could make this problematic for him on an every down basis.

  • 3-4 Weak Inside Linebacker

The fact that Perryman is so hit or miss when it comes to taking on and shedding blocks makes this the most precarious situation for him.  If he can get better or he goes to a team that can keep him clean, he would be in a great situation as far as the amount of ground he would need to cover and his potential impact on the blitz.

Draft Projection

Denzel Perryman physical tools make him an intriguing prospect but the issues he has operating as a linebacker make him a little underwhelming.  He has a nice amount of upside but the sheer depth of the position could hurt him.  Perryman warrants being selected as a Day 3 Prospect and might slip to the late rounds of the draft.

The clips were provided by DraftBreakdown.com