Redskins Player Profile: Perry Riley Jr.Posted on July 24, 2014 by Matt Sloopka
Perry Riley will have an interesting 2014 ahead of him as he plays out what I think is the most important season of his 4 year career. Perry Riley was drafted out of LSU in the 4th round (103 overall) in the 2010 draft, and has had a fairly average to above-average career so far as the wingman to London Fletcher in the inside linebacker corps. After a great looking 2011/2012, many expected Riley to breakout in 2013, but unfortunately, the opposite occurred, as he regressed in parallel with the rest of the team. Here is a look at Riley's career stats so far:
At first look, he has some good tackle totals, but brutal career sack and interception numbers. As John Keim points out here, Perry just isn't a playmaker, and has a lot to prove this year. Take a look at his rank amongst league ILB's and solo tackle number the past couple of years. This makes the tackle numbers look less appealing, and make you wonder if he can stop the regression.
With that said, you cannot hate on his consistency and durability. Last year he played 989 out of a possible 1023 snaps. That is 97% of the team snaps. This year, as the successor to London Fletcher, he will need the same consistency, with an increase in leadership and field vision. Good thing the Redskins have Kirk Olivadotti to coach up techniques on the inside, which will hopefully increase his playmaking ability, and help him become the leader the front 7 needs. With Ryan Clark taking on some of the leadership burden with Fletch retiring, Perry doesn't need to be "the guy", but needs to step up his game and earn more respect from opposing offences. Last year he was the 9th worst run defender according to ProFootballFocus, which cannot happen this season, as Perry has some competition in camp.
Perry isn't the 100%, guaranteed, first-team lock. His new contract is is only 3 years for $13 million, with fairly team friendly cap hits in the future. The Skins also signed Akeem Jordan, Adam Hayward, and Darryl Sharpton, who all have some starting experience and are tough-nose, good tackling ILB's. They will all make the team due to their special teams capabilities and the required depth on the inside. If one of these players can manage to squeeze their way into a role by making some plays (much like Perry did when taking Rocky McIntosh's spot in 2010), Mr. Riley may be looking at a shorter future with the Skins than we thought. Don't get me wrong, I think Riley is the day one starter, but he needs to get a grip on whether he is just an average player in the league, or someone with the ability to push himself into the elite. This year will be important as he has new coaches, a heightened role, a more than likely inexperienced Keenan Robinson starting beside him, and no Fletch to tell him where to be/what is coming.
If Perry can rise to the challenge, our front seven has the capability of being dangerous (and making up for the question marks in secondary). He needs to bring some pain, and play to the ability his beard makes us all believe he can.