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Brown’s E.J. Perry is a rarity: An Ivy League quarterback who is an almost certain NFL draft pick

E.J. Perry put on an impressive performance at the NFL Combine.Darron Cummings/Associated Press

WORCESTER — Brown quarterback E.J. Perry held his Pro Day Tuesday at Holy Cross, with 26 NFL teams in attendance.

Perry completed 47 of 49 passes, demonstrating a wide variety — timing throws over the middle, deep throws down the sideline, throws on the run, throws against his body, and back-shoulder throws that require precise placement.

“Just every single throw that I’m going to throw in a game,” Perry said. “The only thing that stunk is you don’t have pads and guys trying to hit you.”

But the workout was really just for show, as Perry’s stock has been soaring during the pre-draft process. He was named MVP of the East-West Shrine Bowl in February, then had a terrific performance at the NFL Combine, where he graded out as the most athletic quarterback in this year’s draft class.

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Perry was already getting attention from NFL scouts, but now it’s nonstop.

EJ Perry impressed at the combine earlier this month.Steve Luciano/Associated Press

“I’ve never had anything like this, and I’ve coached some great players,” said James Perry, Brown’s head coach and E.J.’s uncle. “It’s been wild. The interest in E.J. was different before the Shrine and the combine, and now it’s on an even different level.”

Perry, who starred at Brown for two years after transferring from Boston College, almost certainly will hear his name called during the NFL Draft April 28-30, which is no small feat.

Only one Ivy League quarterback in the last 37 years has been taken in the draft: Harvard’s Ryan Fitzpatrick in the seventh round in 2005. Dartmouth’s Jay Fiedler and Jeff Kemp had moderate success in the NFL, but both went undrafted.

Ivy League QBs taken in NFL Draft since 1970 merger
Player School Draft year Draft position Stats
Ryan Fitzpatrick Harvard 2005 7th round, No. 250 by Rams 147 starts, 223 touchdown passes in 17-year career
John Witkowski Columbia 1984 6th round, No. 160 by Lions Appeared in five NFL games (one start)
Bob Holly Princeton 1982 11th round, No. 291 by Washington Appeared in 10 games in two seasons
Brian Buckley Harvard 1981 11th round, No. 295 by Patriots Never played
Bob Bateman Brown 1976 7th round, No. 187 by Bengals Never played
SOURCE: Pro Football Reference
Notable undrafted Ivy League QBs
Player School Seasons Stats
Jay Fielder Dartmouth 9 (1995-2005) 76 games, 60 starts, 37-23 record, 3 playoff starts
Jeff Kemp Dartmouth 10 (1981-91) 96 games, 29 starts, 16-12-1 record, 1 playoff start
Jason Garrett Princeton 8 (1993-2000) 25 games, 9 starts, 6-3 record
SOURCE: Pro Football Reference

Perry, though, is well on his way to becoming the next Ivy League QB to make his mark.

NFL teams are allowed to bring 30 draft prospects to their facilities for interviews (no on-field work), and Perry has already had a visit with Nick Caserio and the Texans, and has one coming up with Josh McDaniels and the Raiders.

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While he waits for more visits to get scheduled, Perry met with the Eagles after Tuesday’s workout, and his agent, Sean Stellato, has set up dozens of calls and Zooms for him.

Brown has had only one quarterback drafted in program history: Bob Bateman, who was taken in the seventh round by the Bengals in 1976 and never played an NFL game. Perry is expected to be the second, but he doesn’t want to get ahead of himself.

“When the draft comes around, hopefully I get to hear my name called,” he said. “And if not, hopefully I’m in a camp and get to keep playing football.”

One AFC executive said Perry is a bit undersized at 6 feet 2 inches, and his 27 interceptions the last two seasons are a bit concerning.

But the executive had 10 positives for every negative.

He loves the athleticism; Perry finished first among quarterbacks at the combine in the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle, and second in the 40-yard dash (4.65), vertical jump, and broad jump. NFL.com draft expert Lance Zierlein projects Perry to have a Taysom Hill-like role as a Swiss Army knife while he learns the quarterback position his rookie year.

“He’s fun to watch,” the AFC executive said. “Gritty, tough-minded player who will hang in under pressure. Displays above-average ability to read defenses from the pocket or on the move. Good athlete, has enough accuracy and arm strength to function in the NFL, and certainly is mobile enough in the pocket to slide around the pocket and roll out.”

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Perry began his collegiate career at Boston College before transferring to Brown.The Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

But Perry also has impressed teams with his personality and demeanor. At Brown, he was a leader who never got down on his teammates during their 2-8 season in 2021. Perry was named the Ivy League’s Offensive Player of the Year.

“We had eight quarterbacks last year, and E.J. was such a great leader for them,” Brown QB coach Heather Marini said. “It was all about setting the standard. We were a better program because of how he developed over the last couple of years.”

At the combine, a video of Perry picking up trash on the sideline went viral on social media.

“He’s obviously a great kid, very good worker and leader,” the AFC executive said. “I’m definitely rooting for him.”

Perry has surrounded himself with an experienced group of mentors, too. His uncle, John Perry, coached for the Texans from 2014-20, and has been helping with his NFL connections. Perry has been working out with the Patriots’ Mac Jones and Jarrett Stidham at Edge Performance Systems in Foxborough. And he has connected a few times with 17-year NFL quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who was present at Tuesday’s Pro Day.

Perry met Hasselbeck at the combine three weeks ago, and recently was a guest at Hasselbeck’s house for dinner. Hasselbeck said he is helping Perry with everything off the field — how to prepare for interviews, how to handle official visits, and so on.

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At their dinner, Hasselbeck and his daughters held a mock interview/press conference with Perry, peppering him with questions to see how he handled himself.

“I had a great time meeting him,” Hasselbeck said, “and he’s training here in Foxborough, so I said, ‘Hey, let’s hook up.’ A kid from Brown University? What a cool story.”

And in a month’s time, the Ivy League should have its second quarterback drafted in 38 years.


Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com.