Shortly after he was drafted by the New York Giants as a fifth-round compensatory pick in the 2014 draft, many Giants fans regarded Devon Kennard as a bust. He was a late-round pick with a concerning injury history, and that was enough to condemn him at the time.
The coaches, however, soon fell in love with him. He was the first man up at middle linebacker when Jon Beason was first injured, and by the end of his rookie year had quietly become one of the top 4-3 outside linebackers in the league. Since he quickly became the Giants' best linebacker, it would only be natural to look for another "Kennard" -- both to pair with him and to lessen the impact of a potential injury.
Could that be Ohio State linebacker Joshua Perry, who is eerily similar to Kennard in size, build, athleticism, versatility, and mental makeup.
- Prototypical size for an NFL linebacker
- Very high character, renowned for his leadership in the locker room and community.
- Instinctive and shows a high football IQ. Usually takes an accurate first step and flows toward the play.
- Has adequate athleticism to play outside or inside linebacker.
- Versatile player, has played every linebacker position for Ohio State's defense.
- Can set the edge in the run game or threaten offenses as a rusher.
- Probably limited to strong side or middle linebacker in the NFL.
- Moves well in space for a big linebacker, but could struggle in man coverage on more athletic tight ends or running backs.
- Doesn't always play with the kind of urgency or violence you'd like to see.
Big Board Rankings
Big Blue View - 55th
Mocking The Draft - 31st
CBS - 50th
Draft Tek - 79th
Does He Fit With the Giants?
Yes, yes he does.
Personally, I had all my fingers, arms, legs, toes, and even eyes crossed that Perry would come out for the draft in 2015. At the time I thought he was the perfect "Coughlin" linebacker. High character, high motor, prototypical size, plays downhill but has enough athleticism to cover... Basically, Joshua Perry was the answer for everyone who wanted to clone Devon Kennard after his great rookie season. Perry is a bit bigger, a bit more explosive, but not quite as quick as Kennard, and a lot healthier. If Tom Coughlin were still the Giants' head coach, I would (almost) be willing to put money on Perry being a Giant come May.
But he isn't, and while I doubt the defensive scheme will change dramatically, I do think that having a slightly different and more progressive philosophy at the top will change how Steve Spagnuolo implements his ideas for the Giants' rebuilt defense.
I don't think the presence of Jasper Brinkley, J.T. Thomas, or Keenan Robinson should stop the Giants from drafting Perry. But if Spags wants more speed behind his mammoth defensive tackles, they could look elsewhere.
I really like Joshua Perry, even though he isn't getting much national attention. I saw one outlet say that he is "wired right for the pro game", and I think that hits the nail on the head.
He isn't the most athletic linebacker, and his play doesn't leap off the screen like Myles Jack's does. -- Though to be fair, it's difficult to "leap" off the screen when you're playing on a defense that should see half of its players drafted by the end of Day 2 this year alone. -- But he is always around the ball, a leader on and off the field, and the kind of "glue" player who can help hold the defense together.
Perry is the kind of good, steady, and dependable player that coaches will absolutely love at the next level.