At just under 6'3" and 271 pounds, Perry possesses surprising lower body strength and displays violent hands on contact. He lacks elite athleticism, but has enough explosion at the snap to win the edge consistently. He uses his long arms, powerful lower body, and a good motor to battle his way around opposing tackles on his way to the quarterback. He does struggle to keep his pad level down into contact, making it easier for offensive tackles to push him past the pocket. He usually relies on his speed and a club or chop to keep himself clean around the edge, and lacks counter pass rush moves and suddenness with his moves back inside. Keeping his pad level low off the snap, and with good power for his size, Perry is able to apply a powerful enough punch to knock offensive tackles off balance and then drive them backward with his legs.
He has a surprisingly strong anchor against the run despite giving up 40+ pounds to most offensive tackles, closes quickly and uses his length well in wrapping up ballcarriers. He can be eaten up by blockers against the run at times, struggling to disengage when his pad level is too high. He also lacks discipline as a run defender, focusing too much on the pass rush and losing contain, allowing big runs in his direction.
Though he fought through injuries in his sophomore season, Perry has been a productive pass rusher for multiple seasons at USC. He also showed the ability to drop into coverage in college, experience that should help him if he plays in a 3-4 front at the next level. Still developing as a pass rusher, Perry has shown the ability to dominate some of the top offensive tackles in college football, and has further upside if he develops his pass rush moves and technique. He would need to add weight to play defensive end in a 4-3 at the next level, but he has the potential to be a 12-15 sack guy in the NFL if he lands on a 3-4 team that protects him well with solid line play.
A redshirt in 2008, Perry played in all 13 games (including one start) in 2009, being used primarily in passing situations as a defensive end. He recorded 24 tackles (9 for loss) and a team-high 8 sacks, and was named first-team Freshman All-American by a number of media outlets. He took over as a starter at defensive end on the USC defense during his sophomore season (started nine games), recording 25 tackles (7.5 for loss), 4 sacks, 3 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. As a junior in 2011, Perry was a finalist for the Hendricks Award (presented to the nation’s top defensive end), was named first-team All Pac-12, and was named the Trojans’ defensive lineman of the year. He started all 12 games and finished the season with 54 tackles (13 for loss), led the Pac-12 in sacks with 9.5, had 3 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery. With no bowl game due to NCAA sanctions, Perry announced on December 19th that he will forego his senior season of eligibility and enter the 2012 NFL Draft.