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Why EJ Perry Was Drawn to the Jaguars and Doug Pederson

The former Brown quarterback was one of the best passers in undrafted free agency, but what exactly led him to Jacksonville?

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson was brought to Jacksonville because of the quarterback position. He has proven he can play it, teach it, manage it, and develop it. It has become his badge of honor, wearing it with pride as his reputation as a quarterback guru has grown over the years. 

It is that same reputation that brought yet another quarterback to Jacksonville. This time, it is former Brown University quarterback and Ivy League star EJ Perry, who was drawn to the Jaguars and Pederson as an undrafted free agent.

"Yeah, it's unbelievable, you know, when he comes over and talks to you and gives you his tidbits as it goes out through practice," Perry told Jaguar Report after Friday's rookie minicamp practice. 

"You know, you have to be keen to listen and learn from him. Because, like you said, he's done it a long time, both playing and coaching and been to a bunch of Super Bowls and won two. It's a great opportunity for me at the beginning of my career."

Just as Perry was drawn to the Jaguars, Jacksonville was drawn to him. The Jaguars were aggressive to get Perry, the only quarterback at the Jaguars' rookie minicamp this weekend. 

The Jaguars signed Perry to an undrafted rookie deal with $230,000 in guaranteed money and a $23,000 signing bonus. Perry received the second-largest guaranteed contract among undrafted quarterbacks, with only Carson Strong of the Philidelphia Eagles receiving more ($320k). Among all undrafted free agents, Perry received the third-most guaranteed money and the same amount as fellow Jags signee Kevin Austin, one of the biggest names to sign in undrafted free agency in the whole league. 

“We did and that’s fine. Again, the quarterback position, I’ve always sort of adopted the philosophy of if you can find a guy that can come in, whether he’s your third or your fourth guy, and add the competition, add the value, I keep bringing that up, but that’s what we do," Pederson said Friday when asked about being aggressive to acquire Perry. 

"When you can get a guy like him in here, we loved his tape. He was a guy that we even had [Quarterbacks Coach] Mike McCoy, [Assistant Quarterbacks Coach] Andrew Breiner, some of my assistant coaches talk to prior to the draft and had some meeting time with him and just get to know him a little bit. Then we were fortunate to get him and get him in here and get him going.”

"You know, the whole process was great. All these interviews are great," Perry said. "You get to learn and ask these NFL coaches questions. And Coach McCoy and Coach Breiner were awesome and now getting to be with them is even better and learning from them every day."

It is only right that Perry is now in Jacksonville because of Pederson's former team, the Philadelphia Eagles. According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, Perry first agreed to terms with the Eagles. But because of Strong's availability, the Eagles changed direction, leading to Perry landing with Pederson and the Jaguars.

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The Jaguars simply always stood out to Perry throughout the process. It started with Pederson, of course, with the former Super Bowl-winning head coach and his reputation as a teacher of the position and his quarterback-centric coaching staff all impressing Perry.

"Coaching staff was one of the biggest things on my list. And he obviously is at the top of the coaching staffs in the league, and, you know, having won a Super Bowl having been so successful, it's gonna be awesome to learn from it," Perry said.

"It's awesome to come here and get this opportunity, and they've given me a heck of one, and I'm excited to come and learn and try to prove that I belong."

Undrafted free agency is often like the wild west. Perry himself is a good example of it, with his services clearly being in demand following the draft and with his landing spot not truly being known until the dust settled.

"Yeah, it's one of those things that prior to the draft, and you plan for it, and then when it comes around, it's way more hectic than you could ever believe," Perry said about undrafted free agency. "You are getting calls from every team and trying to figure that out. 

But Perry always knew the Jaguars were in the cards. From Pederson to his coaching staff to the other quarterbacks on Jacksonville's roster, Perry saw the upside in Jacksonville that the Jaguars saw in him. 

"But I always knew that having had that meeting with Coach McCoy and Coach Brenier, and, you know, and their roster and everything and it being a great fit," Perry said. 

"And mainly because I get to learn from, you know, Trevor, CJ has been in the league a long time. You know, and all these great guys that, you know, will be awesome to learn from, and then Coach Pederson obviously and Coach McCoy."

It will now be up to Perry to prove the Jaguars and Pederson right. They bet big on him as an undrafted free agent, and he bet on himself and them right back. Now, he will have to prove himself on the practice field to the same coach whose influence helped draw him to Jacksonville. 

"Just how much improvement I can make in a short amount of time," Perry said when asked what he wants to show Pederson and the Jaguars between now and the end of training camp. 

"And that's my personal goal. I just want to from after today till the end of training camp, just be a much better quarterback and that's kind of where my focus will be this whole time."