USC Trojans defensive end Nick Perry hopes to parlay his 9.5-sack junior season into stardom in the NFL. By most accounts, Perry is projected to be a first round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft either as a defensive end, his position in college, or as a linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Perry could end up with a familiar face with the San Diego Chargers.
The Trojans lost linebackers coach Joe Barry, who took the linebackers coaching gig in San Diego. In the latest NFL mock drafts at CBS Sports, both Rob Rang and Dane Brugler project Perry to be picked 18th overall by the Chargers. Brugler called Perry "a hybrid, athletic edge rusher with a nose for the ball and the motor to create pressure in the backfield," and both analysts agreed Perry would step in for , San Diego's 2009 first round draft pick who has just seven sacks in three NFL seasons.
"Some teams are hesitant to grade Perry as a top 20 prospect due to the fact that he elected to leave USC after just one highly productive season but if San Diego general managerhas proven anything, it is that he is willing to stick with his own team's grades rather than follow the herd," said Rang, though it should be noted that Perry started 22 games for the Trojans in the last two seasons and had eight sacks in primarily a reserve role as a sophomore in 2009.
USC has had 15 first-round draft picks in the last 10 seasons.