GREEN BAY – Nick Perry had been asked a half-dozen different ways how he felt about converting to outside linebacker and being paired with his old USC teammate Clay Matthews and whether he could fix the Green Bay Packers’ anemic pass rush when the question of the night was posed to him:
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “Green Bay?”
"Super Bowls," the Packers’ first-round pick quickly replied.
A year after the Packers had the NFL’s best regular-season record (15-1) and the second-highest scoring offense in league history but fell short of a Super Bowl repeat in large part because they had the NFL’s worst defense and couldn’t rush the passer to save their season, they tabbed Perry with the 28th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft to help make sure they get back to the Super Bowl in February.
“I was aware of it, but I wasn't sure where I was going to draft,” Perry replied when asked if he knew what a problem the Packers’ pass rush had been last season. “I'm ready to take it to the next level. It was a very exciting experience for me just to take a call in the first round."
Perry was among the 26 players who attended the draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, and his wait in the green room, while not as agonizing as Aaron Rodgers’ in 2005, was still a difficult one. He said the Packers were the first team he even heard from Thursday night.
“I didn't talk to no one before that. It was very quiet for me,” Perry said. “I just tried to keep my composure. It's hard just sitting around and everyone's getting called. But at the end of the day, I'm just blessed to be in this situation here."
If Perry, who led the Pac-12 conference in sacks last season as a redshirt junior (9.5), turns out to be the complementary pass rusher the Packers so desperately need, the Packers will feel blessed, too. Last season, their right outside linebacker committee consisted of Erik Walden, Frank Zombo, Brad Jones and Vic So’oto, and after the season, outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene acknowledged that the team didn’t have a good enough pass-rusher on that side.
“I think you always hope that through competition that that guy will surface. Nick will come right in and we’ll throw him right into the competition of things and give him a chance to go out and show us what he can do,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said Thursday night. “But guys have to come in and earn it with what they do out there on the field. We obviously think he has the potential to do that and be the kind of guy we’re looking for out there on the edge.”
Added Thompson: “We’re looking forward to getting him with Kevin and Dom and seeing what he can do. He’ll jump in with our guys and compete with our guys and see how he stacks up.”
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