On Wednesday, the Las Vegas Raiders finally made an addition to the linebacker room. The addition is a familiar foe, Denzel Perryman. Traded for a late-round pick, let’s dive into the tape and see what the Raiders are getting.Â
An improving player…
In 2020, Perryman had something of a renaissance year. The oft-injured linebacker played in 13 games last season and registered the second-highest Pro Football Focus grade among all linebackers. Known as a stout run defender, Perryman made terrific strides in pass coverage. This of course was done in Gus Bradley’s defensive scheme in Los Angeles.
On this play, Perryman comes oh so close to an interception. However, even though he doesn’t get the takeaway, this play really shows his underrated athleticism. First off, he does a great job of instantly getting his hips flipped when he realizes Tua Tagovailoa is not going to go away from his tight end. Then, he attacks the ball at full speed and makes a great effort to corral it. These all-out effort plays are consistent on his tape.
The number one thing that sticks out about Perryman in the passing game is how quick he reacts. As soon as Tagovailoa looks to pass here, Perryman attacks the ball and, although he arrives late, lays a big hit on the tight end.
By far, the most impressive play I saw from Perryman, this is top-tier stuff. For a guy not known for his coverage skills, he makes this look rather easily. The design of this play is to try and catch Perryman sleeping with the play-action and by running DeVante Parker on an “over” route right behind him. Perryman however, does a great job of diagnosing this from the start.
Firstly, he does a great job of taking away the quick one to Parker over the middle but reads Tagovailoa’s eyes and instantly runs down the tight end. Upon realizing he can’t make a play on the ball, he simply delivers a huge hit perfectly as the ball arrives. This type of play recognition is exactly what has plagued the Raiders linebacker core for years, so fans should be excited to see this.
Perryman can still deliver the hammer as well
Even though he has developed his game well as a pass defender, Perryman will always be known as a hammer in the run game. This is much needed with the Raiders as well. At times, he does struggle to disengage with blocks. However, when he is able to get a free pass or read the play right, stuff like this happens:
As mentioned, big hits are a common theme with Perryman. Not only do these plays help the team but they ignite energy in the whole team. Likely to play SAM linebacker while Nicholas Morrow is out, Perryman is a more than capable replacement. In many ways, he may even be better.
*Top Photo: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports