While the SEC is highly touted as the dominant conference in college football, the University of Southern California in the PAC-12, constantly produces top prospects and is consistently among the leader schools who annually gives the NFL high round picks. The Bengals have made a run on players coming out of USC during the Marvin Lewis era, with five players on las year's roster (including Carson Palmer). While USC's most high-profile player opted to stay in college for his Senior year in Matt Barkley, they still have a few good prospects heading into the 2012 Draft.
On Wednesday, USC held their Pro Day on their campus in Los Angeles and the Bengals tight ends and defensive line coaches were conducting the drills in Jonathan and Jay Hayes, respectively. Jonathan was specifically working with the great tackle prospect, Matt Kalil, and while he was impressive, he will not be available to the Bengals where they currently stand. But it's the prospect that Jay was working with that could be a player on the team's radar.
Defensive end Nick Perry had a productive year at USC and followed that up with a solid Pro Day performance. Perry is an interesting prospect, as some teams are looking at him to play a 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level. But, as Charles Davis and Bucky Brooks of NFL.com note, Perry still looks as if he's a better fit as a 4-3 defensive end in the NFL and the drills on Wednesday showed that. That's the position he played last year for the Trojans and he racked up 9.5 sacks on the season.
As it currently stands, Perry's draft stock has ranged anywhere from the late first round to the middle of the second--possibly to where the Bengals pick. And if the New York Giants have taught us anything, a team can never have enough good pass rushers. Perry isn't going to wow anyone with his measurables, but he is steady and solid and as was told today via the NFL Network, teams will know exactly what kind of production that they will get from him.
The Bengals still have yet to find their dominant pass-rusher that Lewis has always coveted. Some think that Carlos Dunlap can be that guy, but he has yet to put together a full season and this third year is critical for him. If the Bengals want to add a productive player to their effective rotation from 2011, Perry could be a good pick in the second round.