It’s extremely rare for a Navy Midshipmen to be invited to the NFL Combine. However, it’s not unheard of.
The most recent Navy alumni to participate in the NFL Combine was Joe Cardona in 2015. Cardona is a long snapper who was eventually drafted in the fifth round by the New England Patriots. Since he’s been with the team, they have made three Super Bowl appearances, winning two of them.
In the closing days of January, Navy’s Malcolm Perry has reportedly received an invitation to the 2020 NFL Combine.
I'm told the final batch of Combine invitations went out today. Among them were Malcolm Perry of #Navy Navy, who was invited with the WR's & Edge rushers James Smith-Williams of NCSU— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) January 30, 2020
Perry, who primarily played the quarterback position as a Midshipmen, is rumored to have been invited to participate in the combine as a wide receiver. During his time at Navy, he spent multiple stints at the A-back position, which is essentially a running back in Coach Ken Niumatalolo’s version of the triple-option.
Perry’s career statistics include 4,395 rushing yards and 40 touchdowns on the ground. Additionally, he has 470 receiving yards on 22 catches and three scores. His 4,395 career rushing yards set him second on Navy’s all-time rushing leaders. At 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds, it’s impractical for Perry to play the quarterback as a professional. Yet, as a wide receiver/slot back, it makes all the sense in the world. But, I’m not the only one who thinks this.
East-West Shrine Game
The Tennessee native participated in the East-West Shrine Game earlier this month as a wide receiver. In practices the week before the game, he demonstrated his natural ability to catch balls with his hands out, fair route running despite limited practice, and clear athletic superiority to his defensive peers. Anyone who has watched Navy Football over the past three seasons was able to see Perry evade defenders with ease, making even the most talented linebackers and defensive backs either completely miss him or simply get out-ran by the speedster.
Another look at Malcolm Perry’s 58 yard TD in the @ShrineBowl!— Navy Football (@NavyFB) January 18, 2020
#ShrineBowl | #NavyFB | #BuiltDifferent pic.twitter.com/XZJ36NAnpu
In the East-West Shrine Game, Perry didn’t record a reception; however, he did stand out when he took his only carry of the game for 52 yards and into the endzone.
Those who worried or questioned his durability before the 2019 season were silenced by the end of it. Weekly, the running quarterback took big hit after big hit. But, he always got up. And, he always got back in the game. He started every game this season for the Midshipmen, leading them to an 11-2 record, a victory over Big 12 opponent Kansas State in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, and a No. 20 finish in the AP and Coaches Polls at the end of the season. In his last game as a collegiate player, Perry became the all-time FBS single-season rushing leader for a quarterback, finishing with 2,017 yards on the year.
It’s natural to look at his size and speed and compare Malcolm Perry to someone like Tyreek Hill. Hill is listed as one inch taller than Perry, but five pounds lighter. Tyreek Hill is a natural receiver whose speed is unmatched even in the NFL. Defensive backs literally can’t catch Hill in open space. College players couldn’t catch Perry many times, but professional defensive players are on a different level.
Julian Edelman, on the other hand, may be a more fair comparison. Edelman played quarterback at Kent State and transitioned to wide receiver. He too is only one inch taller, but weighs five pounds heavier than Perry. While many may fantasize that Perry also becomes a future Super Bowl MVP, it’s probably a stretch.
Lastly, we have the New Orleans Saints’ jack-of-all-trades, Taysom Hill, to reference. Hill played quarterback for BYU and has been effectively used as a utility player for Sean Payton’s offense. Though Hill is a much larger athlete, it’s not unreasonable to foresee other NFL teams using Coach Paytons’ model with Hill and apply it with Malcolm Perry.
Ultimately, Perry is a unique combination of all three of these players and could have the potential to fit well in a creative offensive system that forces opposing defenses to gameplan much differently.
At this point, Malcolm Perry looks to be a late-round pick for a team that isn’t in rebuilding mode. Frankly, no team will expect Perry to turn around their organization. Therefore, the teams that will look at Perry will be those that are either playoff teams or those just on the playoff cusp. Best case, he gets selected in the late-fifth round. Worst case, he finds himself picked up in the seventh or as an undrafted free agent. After the combine, and after we see how fast his 40-yard dash time really is, we’ll re-evaluate Malcolm Perry’s draft stock and have a better estimation of where he will land.