Who is EJ Perry? Brown QB emerged as NFL Draft sleeper after East-West Shrine Game, combine success

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All of the quarterback attention in the 2022 NFL Draft has been focused on players like Malik Willis, Kenny Pickett, Matt Corral and Desmond Ridder. That's no surprise, as all were potential first-round selections, and those are the quarterbacks that get buzz during draft season.

That said, teams still frequently find sleepers outside of the first round who turn into quality NFL starters. We saw the Texans potentially find one last season in third-round pick Davis Mills. Previously, quarterbacks like Dak Prescott, Derek Carr, Kirk Cousins and, of course, Tom Brady have all been selected outside of the first round and turned into starting quarterbacks.

The 2022 NFL Draft is rather weak at quarterback, so we may not see a quality sleeper emerge in this year's crop. Among that group, Brown quarterback EJ Perry continues to establish himself as an intriguing Day 3 quarterback prospect.

How did Perry become a popular sleeper quarterback? Here's what to know about him as he looks to become the first Ivy League signal-caller to be drafted in 17 years.

MORE NFL DRAFT: TSN's 7-round mock | Top 150 big board

Who is EJ Perry?

EJ Perry was a two-star recruit who signed with Boston College to begin his college career. He had played high school football for his father, EJ Perry III, at Andover High School in Andover, Massachusetts, where he had become the second all-time leading passer in the state.

Perry (6-2, 211 pounds) played two seasons at Boston College but played sparingly, completing 27 of 39 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns. He eventually decided to transfer to Brown to play for his uncle, James Perry, who became the head coach of the Bears in 2019.

Perry was a two-year starter at Brown and put together a strong senior season. He completed 66.5 percent of his passes for 3,034 yards, 23 passing touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He added 402 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the ground en route to winning the Bushnell Cup, awarded to the Ivy League's top offensive player.

Now, Perry is looking to make the jump to the NFL level, and his combination of solid arm strength and great athletic ability is going to make him a hot commodity for teams needing a quarterback on Day 3.

Perry has already been on several visits to NFL teams, including the Texans, Raiders and Patriots. The buzz surrounding him has grown in wake of his strong senior season and his performance in the lead-up to the 2022 NFL Draft.

EJ Perry college stats at Brown

Perry had a strong two-year stretch as a starter at Brown. He was named to the All-Ivy League first team in each of his two seasons with the program. He also became just the school's fifth player to win the Bushnell Cup and first since Buddy Farnham in 2009. 

Below is a look at Perry's stats during his two seasons with the Bears.

YearGamesComp. %Pass yardsPass TDsINTsRush yardsRush TDs
2019759.92,93822137278
2021766.53,03423144027

As good as Perry was statistically, his rise up draft boards didn't begin in earnest until he participated in one of the college all-star games: the East-West Shrine Game.

MORE: FCS sleepers to watch during the 2022 NFL Draft

EJ Perry East-West Shrine Game highlights

Perry began to put himself on the map in a big way during the 2022 East-West Shrine Game. He was part of the East team and played the entire second half after Kent State's Dustin Krum played the whole first half.

Perry was sharp during his performance. He entered the game with the East trailing 19-0, but he led them on a miraculous comeback. They ended up losing 25-24, as Perry led the team on three touchdown drives in the second half and helped them convert on three two-point conversion opportunities.

During the contest, Perry racked up 241 passing yards and three touchdowns while completing 13 of 18 passes. He also ran for 14 yards on four rushing attempts. He was named the Shrine Bowl's Offensive MVP despite playing for the losing team.

Below are the highlights from Perry's stellar showing.

EJ Perry NFL Combine performance

Perry was invited to the 2022 NFL Combine and he showed well at that event too. He was a dual-threat quarterback at Brown, and he proved that he has the athleticism needed to be a solid scrambler at the NFL level.

Only Desmond Ridder (4.52) among the QBs ran the 40-yard dash faster than Perry's 4.65 seconds. He also showed very well in the on-field drills, throwing well and demonstrating strong accuracy and consistency despite concerns in those areas on tape.

The throw below was one of his best of the NFL Combine.

Perry got in some extra work too, as he was one of the quarterbacks that stuck around to throw to the other position groups (running back, linebacker, defensive back, etc.) throughout the week. That gave evaluators a bit more time to check out his mechanics and consistency, albeit in a hyper-controlled environment.

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said during the combine broadcast that Perry reminded him a bit of Colt McCoy, who has long been an NFL backup quarterback.

All told, Perry's combine performance further boosted his draft stock, and made it all the more likely that he would be a Day 3 pick. Below are the numbers he put up during each athletic test.

EJ Perry combine stats

HeightWeight40 timeVertical jumpBroad jump3-coneShuttle
6-22114.65 sec.34.5 in.123 in.6.85 sec.4.18 sec.

NFL DRAFT ORDER: All 262 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft in order

Ivy League QBs drafted into the NFL

Perry will almost certainly become the first Ivy League quarterback to be drafted since Harvard's Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2005. If drafted, he will also be the first Brown passer to be selected since the Bengals took Bob Bateman in the seventh round of the 1976 NFL Draft.

Below is a list of all of the Ivy League quarterbacks drafted into the NFL dating back to 1939, when Sid Luckman was chosen second overall by the Chicago Bears.

YearRoundOverall pickPlayerTeamSchool
20057250Ryan FitzpatrickRamsHarvard
19846160John WitkowskiLionsColumbia
198211291Bob HollyWashingtonPrinceton
198111295Brian BuckleyPatriotsHarvard
19767187Bob BatemanBengalsBrown
197514362Tom DoyleRaidersYale
197317421Eric CroneCardinalsHarvard
196911277Brian DowlingVikingsYale
196919Marty DomresChargersColumbia
19648109Gary WoodGiantsCornell
193912Sid LuckmanBearsColumbia

If Perry is taken before the 160th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, he will be the earliest Ivy League quarterback selected in the Modern Draft era. If he goes before the 180th pick, he will be the lone Ivy League quarterback drafted before the sixth round during the Modern Draft era.

Author(s)
Jacob Camenker is a digital content producer for Sporting News. He began at Sporting News as a fantasy football intern and previously worked for NBC Sports Boston