A couple of weeks ago, I brought you all a piece on Logan Wilson, the Wyoming linebacker, who was recommended to me by my fellow NFL draft nerd, Simon Carroll.
This gave me an idea – Actually before I go any further, I’ll signpost a couple of podcasts that I recently recorded with Simon. We took a look at some of our favourite prospects and just had a good old chinwag about them all… The offensive side of the ball was Part 1 and was recorded on The Collapsing Pocket Podcast and on The Full 10 Yards College Football Podcast, we looked at defensive prospects in Part 2. Both of these are available at all the usual podcast outlets.
Back to my idea then… I thought, in the run up to the draft, why not take a deeper dive into players who will be available in the later rounds of the draft?
At this time of year, many writers and podcasters, myself included as mentioned above, do a lot of work on the star college players and players who will be picked in the top 50 of the draft. So how about a look at the guys who will get picked on day 2 and day 3 of the draft? After all, these are the picks that if you get them right, are the picks that make your team great, instead of good.
So with this in mind, I want to talk about a player who is just a playmaker, pure and simple.
Malcolm Perry, out of the Naval Academy.
Perry played for the Midshipmen for four years, rotating between slotback and quarterback for his first three years before becoming permanent QB for his Senior year. However, for those of you who aren’t aware, the role of the Navy QB is a little bit different, as the Navy offense is an option offense, often operating out of the flexbone formation. This means if you press play on Malcolm Perry’s tape, or switch on the highlight reel, you’re way more likely to see him running with ball in hand, rather than finding a receiver down the field with a pass.
For this reason, most Service academy Quarterback’s switch positions when they enter the draft and Perry is no different – He’s now a wide receiver. I believe he can be a really interesting and effective offensive weapon at the NFL level and a potential bargain as teams will be able to select him on day 3 of the draft. Some of you may remember former Navy QB, Keenan Reynolds followed this path most recently.
Perry is 5’9 and weighed in at the Scouting Combine at 190lbs, so he’s very much undersized whether he plans to line up as a QB, a running back or a wide receiver in the pro’s. Perry is a military brat who grew up in Tennessee and played Quarterback in highschool before joining the Naval Academy in 2016, after what was a successful career on a personal level with two All-State team selections as well as stuffing the stats sheets with both passing and rushing yards.
That carried over to his college career at Navy where Perry ran for over 1,000 yards in each of his last three years and he actually went over 2,000 yards rushing as full time QB last season, oh… And he scored 21 touchdowns.
It’s really easy to see why, too. Let me show you some aspects of Perry’s game that get me excited and make me think he’s going to be an asset in the NFL.
Perry is a slippery athlete in the open field and at times, he’s hard to lay a glove on, nevermind wrap up and tackle. A lot of this comes because Perry has unbelievable lateral quickness.
Just look at the cut he makes here!
Firstly, yes, the blocking is fantastic and blocking is something that this offense heavily relies on to work – The triple option is an offensive scheme which levels the athletic playing field and relies on execution blocking and decision making – something that servicemen should be pretty good at.
Once Perry has broken past the defensive line, he squares up the defensive back and makes a super explosive cut to dance clear of a would-be tackler, and it’s goodnight.
Every time I have watched Perry I see this style of explosive cuts, he’s gazelle-like and he can juke out pretty much any defender he likes.
Here’s another clip of Perry showing that explosive cutting alongside patience to allow his blocks to get set up before him.
Perry makes a sound decision to not throw the ball and sees a running lane. However, as I said, he shows a good amount of patience. He doesn’t just fly down the field at full tilt, he allows his two guys to make blocks, for even more yardage.
That’s really savvy play.
Athletically, I feel that Perry looks quick on tape. I feel like he’s got enough long speed to escape defenders chasing him down from behind and he’s always got the ability to rip off a long run.
This is a great example of his long speed – This is a 52 yards score from the East-West Shrine Bowl. Perry played as a wide receiver in this game but his ability to play as an option QB will add a really nice wrinkle to his next team’s offensive gameplan.
Here’s another example just for fun – Love that Perry brings out the spin move here and then has the speed to take it for 6.
This is where I feel Perry is going to come into his own and become an offensive weapon. We’ve seen this sort of thing with Taysom Hill in the Saints offense and I believe Malcolm Perry can play a similar role – He’s obviously got the skill and intelligence as a ball carrier and he’s a threat to pass as a former QB. Admittedly Perry is going to be a project as a receiver but even so, even in the early days, he can at least play a gadget role or be effective on quick passes that allow him to use his lateral explosiveness and general dynamism in the open field.
One thing that really surprised me was Perry’s athletic testing.
Shout out to Kent Lee Platte AKA @MathBomb for the RAS scores.
As you can see, Perry’s relative athletic score comes out pretty poorly. We know Perry is diminutive, so he suffers here as expected. However, poor explosivity and poor speed too… Pretty puzzling. Obviously, we can’t argue with the numbers but when I watch Perry, I only see someone who can perform explosive movements with ease and someone who plays fast.
For me, because I see the athleticism on the field and the fruits of that, I’m not too concerned with these testing numbers, however, it is food for thought, at the very least.
Anyway, back to the positive stuff… You’d think for a guy who carries the ball as much as he does and therefore takes as many hits as he does, Perry may have an issue with fumbles and turnovers.
He does not.
Well, as long as we take away one nightmare game where he fumbled three times against Notre Dame last year. In total, nightmare included, Perry fumbled 7 times. Which isn’t bad considering he’s 5’9, 190lbs and ran the ball 295 times throughout the season. It’s not just the size or hits either – every option play has a “mesh point” when the QB is taking the decision to keep the ball or hand the ball off. We see fumbles likes this a fair bit in the NFL, yet Perry, who will have performed this action hundreds of times each year in college, doesn’t have a problem at the mesh point and is able to make a good decision and execute the play.
My take away from this is that Perry can take care of the football, is fundamentally sound in this regard and is actually, really tough. He takes his fair share of licks and if you look through tape or highlights, you’ll see Perry at the goaline, he’s not afraid to put his head in amongst a crowd if it means scoring. Furthermore, Perry has never suffered a major injury, so no red flags in this area.
Outside of the offense, I feel like Perry can add even more value to his next team in the third phase of the game – Special teams.
Perry has served as a kick returner in his Sophomore and Junior years in college, where he averaged 24.6 yards per return (20 returns for 491 yards through two years). Those are impressive numbers and I feel the traits you’ll have seen show that this, again, is translatable to the NFL and will add another layer to his game and allow him to see snaps and add value as he develops as a receiver.
In an era where the NFL is becoming less traditional and more and more like college football, with more rushing from the QB, more gadget plays and becoming a game more and more predicated on athleticism, I definitely feel like Perry is going to be a problem for defenses, even if he’s not going to play every offensive snap.
Then again, I’ve shown and spoken of ways that he can be incorporated into an offense and I’ve also gone into his special teams value too.
Off the field, Perry is also going to be a great leader and solid presence in the locker room, he’s going to come in and work his tail off each day, set an example and contribute to the culture of your team.
If you’re a GM and you don’t want to throw a 6th rounder at this guy… I really feel you’re in the wrong job.
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Title image credit: L.A. Times