Over three days and countless minutes, 245 picks had passed by in the 2020 NFL Draft, and Malcolm Perry still hadn’t heard his name called.
The chances of an NFL squad selecting the record-breaking Navy quarterback were dwindling. Just 10 picks remained.
And then, Perry saw a Florida number pop up on his phone. The Miami Dolphins were buzzing in. With the 246th pick, Brian Flores’ side grabbed Perry, making him their final pick of the draft.
“I was a little surprised,” Perry said via a release from the Naval Academy. “I hadn’t heard from the Dolphins during this entire process, but I’m excited that I heard from them today.
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity and all the support I’ve received from the Naval Academy over the last four years. I’m excited the Dolphins are giving me the chance and I can’t wait to get down to Miami and get to work.”
Perry is expected to be a skill-position player in the NFL, likely operating as a third-down back, a slot receiver or something else.
What position Perry winds up being listed at with the Dolphins is mostly irrelevant. He’ll be a Swiss-Navy-Knife of sorts. What matters is how they get the ball in his hands and what he does when he has it. And time and time again at Navy, Perry showed he can be a playmaker at a variety of positions. While he mostly played quarterback in a triple-option system, he has also featured as a receiver and a back.
Perry finished his Navy career with 4,359 rushing yards, 470 receiving yards, 1,311 passing yards and 491 kick return yards. When he gets the ball — no matter the circumstance — he makes plays. Perry led the country in explosive runs (runs of 20 yards or more) with 26 in 2019.
Navy QB Malcolm Perry had the most 10+ yard runs in the nation - 65 pic.twitter.com/EiYhCNh4C7— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 25, 2020
In his senior campaign, Perry was Navy’s captain and quarterback. He led the Mids to a school-record 11 wins, their first win against Army since 2015, the C.I.C. Trophy and a win in the Liberty Bowl over Kansas State. Perry scampered for 2,017 yards in 2019 — a mark that is a school record and the FBS record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season. Perry also broke into the end-zone 21 times for rushing touchdowns, and he wasn’t too shabby through the air either, completing 48-of-86 passes for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns. Perry scored by land and by air, and would’ve scored by sea too if he had a boat.
Perry is the 17th Navy player to be drafted by an NFL team and the third of the Ken Niumatalolo era, following Keenan Reynolds and Joe Cardona. He was the only Service Academy player to be selected in this year’s draft, and according to USA Today he is the first Service Academy player the Dolphins have ever drafted.
“I’m super excited for Malcolm, he’s so deserving of this opportunity,” Niumatalolo said. “Malcolm has always put the team before himself and I’m so happy that he is getting some individual recognition for his incredible career.”
Perry isn’t the only Navy connection the Dolphins have. Former Navy fullbacks coach Mike Judge is entering his fourth season as a quality control coach with Miami and was part of the staff that coached Perry in the 2020 East-West Shrine Game. On his only carry of the game, Perry outran defenders for a 52-yard touchdown.
“(Judge) was always a big help for me when he was at Navy,” Perry told the Capital Gazette. “We had a pretty close relationship.”
Also, Perry’s new offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey, coached defense at Air Force from 1979 through 1982. Figuring out how to weaponize Perry and No. 5 overall pick Tua Tagovailoa would be fun for any creative football mind.
The 5-foot-9 native of Clarksville, Tennessee is going to get the chance to prove himself on football’s biggest stage. And when Perry winds up on SportsCenter with his first neck-breaking highlight as a professional, maybe Trey Wingo will remember what school he went to.