We wrap up the Rookie Spotlight feature with the guy who started off this particular rookie class: Nick Perry.
How acquired: Drafted in the first round (28th overall)
Reasonable expectations for 2012: Become the counter punch in the defensive pass rush. The lazy part of me wants to say become a starter, but really he's expected to do more. The last few years have seen a nice range of average on the other side of Clay Matthews. What was once suppose to a nice one two punch of Aaron Kampman and Clay Matthews has turned into the Claymaker and dudes like Brad Jones, Frank Zombo, Brady Poppinga, and Erik Walden. Not exactly a James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley combination. Before the draft it was expected that Thompson was going to go out and get the answer that so many have been waiting for on that other side, and the answer we got was Perry. He has to do more than start, he has to make a difference and quick.
How he can exceed those expectations: Become defensive rookie of the year. Now I'm not expecting Perry to take over the league from week 1, but if he does I'm fine with that too. If he is able to push for that DRMVP status like Matthews did his first year then the pass rush should be in pretty good shape. If Perry can show the amount of pass rushing promise that he did in college in the pros that's not an unreasonable goal either. After all, he will have Matthews drawing more double teams along the other side. Mix those one on one opportunities with some inside push from Jerel Worthy and B.J. Raji and Perry could be in a great shape to rack up QB pressures and sacks.
Why Packer fans should keep an eye on him: Perry is the best OLB prospect since Matthews himself. Sure you are going to hear questions about his transition to the position, but that's similar to the questions you heard about Bryan Bulaga's arm length. It's a great question during draft time but once the trigger has been pulled you just have to ask yourself is he a good football player? Perry is a good football player. He'll be able to hunt QB's and take pressure off Matthews. That alone should get Packer fans excited for the future. The Packers finally have a pair of young pass rushers to compliment a ball hawking secondary and explosive offense. That's nothing but good news.