Ohio State's Joshua Perry might not be the greatest athlete in the 2016 NFL Draft, but he brings sure tackling and playmaking to the position, and his strong leadership abilities could come in handy. Perry played in 52 games, starting 39 for the Buckeyes and was voted a team co-captain as a senior. He was named an all-Big Ten first-team linebacker and honorable mention All-American by SI.com.
Name: Joshua Perry
School: Ohio State University
Weight: 254 pounds
Draft projection: rounds 2-3
Combine stats: 4.68 40-yard dash; 20 bench press reps; 33.5" vertical jump; 124" broad jump
Overview: Everybody seems to know how good of a leader off-the-field Perry is, but most seem to forget how good of a football player the former Buckeye linebacker is. He is the kind of guy Bengals defensive coordinator, Paul Guenther, could put anywhere and see him produce. Perry might have played in a stacked defense at Ohio State, but the kid could have a solid career in the NFL, and Cincinnati, despite adding both Karlos Dansby and Taylor Mays in free agency, would do worse than adding a linebacker with prototypical size and good speed. Perry was the Buckeyes' leading tackler on their national championship team in 2014 with 124 (8.5 for loss, three sacks), and somehow managed to get better this past season.
The Good: Outside of being a great locker room presence, Perry is a strong tackler with the experience of having played in all three linebacker positions, eventually settling as the Buckeyes' WILL linebacker after Ryan Shazier went pro two years ago. He can tackle and will throw his chest into it. He's a really strong player with good speed; of the 30 linebackers who ran the 40, only six were faster than Perry's 4.68 time. That despite the fact that at 254 pounds, Perry was the third-heaviest linebacker there. Perry has great athleticism for his size, and despite not having the ability of covering guys one-on-one in space just yet, many think Perry could become a three-down linebacker in the future.
The Bad: He might only become a run stopper, lacking the quickness to chase sideline-to-sideline or change directions. Perry has some experience in coverage after manning some of the MIKE position a couple of years ago for Ohio State, but he's not shown yet he can be more than a thumper, even if a very good one. He could be a better Sam than A.J. Hawk, but the Bengals only use three linebackers 20% of the time, and Perry is projected to be a best fit at the SAM position.
Projected Round: 2-3