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Is 4th round pick Joshua Perry a future replacement for Manti Te'o?

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The Chargers just might have stole a starter in the 3rd day of the draft.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Joey Bosa is the impact player the Chargers desperately need on the interior. Hunter Henry is the extended offensive lineman to enhance the run game. Max Tuerk is the center we've all been waiting for. In the 4th round, the Chargers selected Bosa's teammate linebacker Joshua Perry. Common sense says that he'll come in and be a special teamer and added depth. Common sense would also say the 6'4/254 pound linebacker is a thumper and doesn't fit in today's NFL. I would agree with that. With the caveat that you haven't seen him play. My reaction when the team selected Perry.

I'm not going to argue today that he'll replace Te'o but I'm not going to argue against it, either. For the heck of it, let's compare both players measureables.

Player Perry Te'o
Trait
40 yard 4.68 4.82
10 yard 1.64 1.67
Bench 20 21
Vertical 33.5" 33
Broad 10'4" 9'5"
Short Shuttle 4.35 4.27
3-cone 7.21 7.13
Weight 254 241

From a measurable standpoint, from what I've gathered is that the magic number for good football players is they run a 7.2 flat or under 3-cone. Outweighing Manti by 13 pounds makes Perry's numbers more impressive when you adjust for density. I made a list of "my guys" on defense and 1 of the 3 linebackers was Perry. The reason he was on the list is because he is an enjoyable watch. He does his job but also makes plays. The plays aren't always made for himself but he's in the right area and it allows his teammate to make a play. So when I heard his name called by the Chargers I smiled ear to ear knowing that the team got a quality linebacker.

There's a reason Perry was available at the top of the 4th. He isn't flashy, like his former teammate Darron Lee. Lee could close in a hurry. Perry is far from being speed deficient, but he doesn't have another gear he can shift to. Like his current teammate, Denzel Perryman, he's not going to put you into a human pretzel when he hits you. Perry is a sure tackler for the most part but the impact hits are lacking. Pair those two with the fact that it takes Perry an extra step to change directions to get going, then I could see why teams would pass on him for 3 rounds in a row. He's a good player, not an impact player.

Make no mistake, he's a good football player.

My first exposure to Perry was against Michigan. He had 10 tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, and also broke up a pass. What jumps out at first is Perry's aggressiveness. That's an edge he'd have right away if he became the starter. He's coming downhill and has no issue taking on lineman. You can tell he has some juice to him.

What I like about Perry is that he's seeing plays before or even as they develop. So he's playing fast. You can see that in the clips above. What you can also see in those clips, and in a few below, is that he's more than adequate in coverage. I've read from big media that he'd have to come off the field in passing downs and ehhhh I would vehemently disagree. For whatever reason you have to be a 4.4 LB to be good in coverage. That's not the case. Perry is a better coverage linebacker than Darron Lee. That's 4.43 Darron Lee. Why? Because he's more aware. You can see him getting his hands on you to reroute you. When dropping in coverage he is keeping his head on a swivel and looking for work. He busts his butt to get to his zone. He picked up 2 separate sacks in the games I watched because his man stayed into block. That's all awareness. At Ohio State, Perry was the linebacker responsible for "backs out", or guarding the running back out of the backfield. In each game there was at least 1 opportunity where Perry ran with a running back stride for stride on a wheel route.

More miscellaneous clips above but you can see him excel in coverage. The clip of him hitting the QB resulted in an interception for a TD. Just because he wasn't targeted doesn't mean it shouldn't be taken into account. Let me ask you this, do any of these clips look like a linebacker that can't help San Diego on defense? Does this look like a backup? Do you think I would miss out on the 1st round of happy hour to write about a linebacker who isn't worth our time?

Perry is solid. That's an upgrade. I'm not going to argue at least today that he's better than Te'o but come Week 8 and Perry and Perryman are the starting linebackers I won't bat an eye, either. I'm a big fan of this pick and for what the Chargers need to get off the field whether it's to help their pass or run defense, Perry can help. I had an early 3rd round grade on Perry, so if they would've taken him there, I would've been fine. So getting him an entire round later is just icing on the cake. He can play.