With the offseason underway, we’ve been taking an in-depth look at each of the Jets’ new signings. We continue with a look at wide receiver Breshad Perriman.
The 26-year old is listed at 6’2” and 215 pounds and was a first round pick out of UCF in 2015. He was widely regarded as a bust after catching just 43 passes in his first three seasons with the Ravens, but - after a stint with the Browns - he broke out at the end of last season with the Bucs, racking up over 500 yards and five touchdowns in the last five games.
Perriman, who is the son of 10-year NFL veteran Brett Perriman, was a two-star recruit who began his college career at Central Florida in 2012.
As a true freshman, Perriman caught 26 passes for 388 yards and three touchdowns, however he made a jump over the next two seasons, increasing his production and averaging over 20 yards per catch.
After catching 50 passes for over a thousand yards and nine touchdowns in his junior year, Perriman announced he was going to forego his senior year and enter the 2015 NFL draft.
Having put up some spectacular numbers at his pro day, Perriman started to get some first round buzz and ended up getting drafted by the Ravens with the 26th overall pick. However, he missed his entire rookie season due to injury.
In 2016, Perriman had some good moments as he ended up with 33 catches for 499 yards and three touchdowns. However, his 2017 season was a disaster as injuries and inconsistent play limited him to just 10 catches and saw him end up the season as a healthy scratch. The Ravens opted not to exercise his fifth year option and then released him in final cuts in 2018 anyway.
Having been released, Perriman worked out for a number of teams, including the Jets, but couldn’t immediately find a role. He signed for Washington in mid-September but only lasted a week before being released. However, he eventually found a job with the Browns in mid-October.
Perriman resurrected his career somewhat with the Browns. Although he only caught 16 passes in 10 games, he established himself as a big play threat by averaging 21 yards per catch and scoring twice. This led to him signing a one-year, $4 million deal with the Bucs.
He made a slow start in Tampa Bay but made some contributions after midseason and then saw his role increase when Mike Evans was injured down the stretch. Over the last five games, he was just one yard behind the league leader in receiving yards and scored five touchdowns. He ended the season with 36 catches, 25 of which were in those last five games.
Reports indicate that the Jets agreed to terms with Perriman on a one-year contract with a $6 million base salary and $2 million in potential incentives just hours after Robby Anderson agreed to join the Panthers.
Let’s move onto some more in-depth analysis of what Perriman brings to the table, based on in-depth research and film study.
Perriman started to get first round buzz after his 40-yard dash was unofficially clocked at 4.19 at his pro day. The officially released time was 4.24.
He also posted excellent explosiveness numbers with a vertical of 36.5 inches and a broad jump of 127 inches.
Perriman has decent size and managed 18 bench press reps in his pro day workout. He did not run agility drills there though, but scouting reports praise the fact that he is “sudden” for a player of his size.
Perriman has primarily played on the outside, as he only had four catches from the slot during his time with the Ravens. However, he had some big plays from the slot last year, including three of his six touchdowns.
He will occasionally carry the ball on jet sweeps or end arounds but has just 20 yards on seven carries in his career so far.
Perriman has been a constant downfield threat throughout his career, apart from during that 2017 season where all nine of his downfield targets were incomplete.
With his 4.2 speed Perriman has always had the ability to get behind the defense for deep catches.
He tracks the ball well and locates it early so he can adjust to inaccurate throws and can go up over defenders or in a crowd to come down with the ball on downfield throws.
Perriman entered the league as a raw route runner who sometimes lacked precision in his routes and didn’t round them off or sell changes of direction. He has shown some improvement since entering the league though, as he exploits the fact that the defender has to play off him due to his deep speed by running a smooth out-breaking route on this play.
In college, Perriman tended to rely on his speed and using his size to get open. Obviously that hasn’t been as successful at the NFL level, but it can still be an asset for him at times.
One thing Perriman does well is release off the line. If the cornerback is playing press coverage, he uses his hands well to get a clean release off the attempted jam and he sells the initial release well with head fakes or jab steps.
Perriman’s biggest issue has been his inconsistent hands. He dropped eight passes in his final season at UCF and nine in his first two seasons with the Ravens.
Ravens fans became frustrated with Perriman after he made some costly drops in key situations on plays like this.
At the time, Perriman attributed most of these drops to poor concentration and focus on his part and claimed they weren’t anything to do with his catching technique. However, it’s apparent that he doesn’t always look natural when catching the ball, or catch it cleanly.
However, the good news is that he has made encouraging progress in this area with just one dropped pass in 80 targets since leaving the Ravens. He still bobbled or body-caught a lot of these though.
On his highlight reel, Perriman has had plenty of spectacular grabs, diving for the ball, leaping over defenders or making juggling, off-balance grabs. He seems to have a really good knack for knowing where he is near the sideline and getting his feet inbounds. He shows off a slick one-handed grab here:
Perriman has never fumbled at the NFL level.
Only three of Perriman’s 11 NFL touchdowns have come from inside the red zone, but his skill set would seem to lend itself to being an option near the goal line. For example, one of his touchdowns for the Ravens in 2016 saw Joe Flacco throw a fade to the back of the end zone and Perriman got a clean release and went up to get it.
This play was actually from just outside the red zone but gives a good sense of what Perriman can do in these situations.
Yards after the catch
Statistically, Perriman hasn’t fared too well in terms of yards after the catch, although he does have the speed to turn a short catch into a big gain. He had a 53-yard touchdown in 2016 where he caught a short pass and was basically untouched as he weaved through the defense.
Perriman doesn’t break many tackles, but he manages to do so to get some extra yardage on this play:
Scouting reports indicate that Perriman gives a good effort as a blocker and that seems to be the case at the NFL level based on his film. However, his grades have generally been slightly below average and he’s had a couple of penalties while blocking.
He makes an excellent cut block here to allow the Bucs to convert on a 3rd-and-long screen pass.
Perriman has been criticized in the past for a lack of aggressiveness when going after or coming back to the ball the ball. He further drew the ire of Ravens fans in 2017 on this play where he didn’t make much of an effort to contest the catch, leading to an interception:
Last season, especially as he played well down the stretch, it seemed like Perriman was being stronger and more competitive at the catch point and that may have been one of the main reasons his numbers took off. Hopefully he can carry that into next year too.
Perriman hasn’t contributed on special teams in college or the pros. He has only had a limited amount of snaps on special teams, mainly blocking on the kick return unit or on the hands team for onside kicks.
Instincts and Intelligence
One pattern with Perriman is that it often seems to take him a while to settle into his role when joining a new team or moving into a different system. He has shown hesitancy at times, presumably due to a lack of confidence in what he was doing.
While he doesn’t make many mental errors, Perriman has been flagged for one pre-snap penalty and did have this blown assignment that caused a fumble:
As a receiver, he shows an ability to adjust his route down the field to find an open spot or come back to the ball when plays get extended. He also showcased some natural instincts with his reaction on this play:
Perriman earned all-AAC academic honors during his sophomore year.
Perriman hasn’t had issues with on or off-field discipline, but there have been some minor concerns about his approach to the game over his first few seasons.
One college teammate described Perriman as a team-first player, humble, positive and someone who loves the game, so he obviously has strong character.
However, he’s been described as an introvert and it’s been said that he will lose confidence quickly when facing adversity. He himself admitted he was “in a dark hole” as he battled injuries early on in his career.
It appears that John Harbaugh had lost some patience with him and was questioning his toughness during his rookie year as he aired his frustration over how long it was taking for Perriman to get healthy.
The injury in his rookie year was a partial PCL tear which happened in training camp. He looked set to come back during the season but it kept getting delayed and eventually he was placed on injured reserve with the suggestion being that he had aggravated it and made it into a full tear.
Perriman missed most preseason in 2016 due to a partially-torn ACL during the offseason program and then missed the entire preseason in 2017 with a hamstring injury. However, the only game he missed due to injury during either season was due to a concussion. He missed four others due to being a healthy scratch in 2017 though.
Perriman also had a concussion in college, although that was suffered back in 2012.
Perriman has some close links to the Jets organization with Joe Douglas and Chad Alexander both having been on the Ravens’ front office staff when he was drafted. Also, Gregg Williams was his head coach for part of the 2018 season.
He’s also been a teammate of several players, including CJ Mosley, Patrick Onwuasor, Ahmad Gooden, Alex Lewis, Kenneth Dixon, Bronson Kaufusi and Bennett Jackson. He was also very briefly a teammate of Jehu Chesson, Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson, albeit that Chesson was actually just on the practice squad after initially being cut for Perriman.
His role with the Jets is obvious. He’s going to be the downfield threat to replace Anderson and the Jets will get a bargain if Perriman can produce at anything like the rate he did down the stretch.
Inevitably, this signing means that Perriman is destined to draw comparisons with Anderson. They’re actually pretty similar players with their ability to make plays down the field.
While Anderson is widely viewed as a one-trick pony who only runs go routes, anyone who has watched him develop over the past few years can see that this description sells him short. In fact, Perriman is arguably even more of a limited player than Anderson in terms of the routes he’ll run and where he can produce.
His ability to adjust and come down with the ball on downfield throws may be Perriman’s most impressive attribute and somewhere he could be better than Anderson, not that Anderson has been bad at this. Perriman also has a bigger frame, not that it’s helped him avoid any durability issues.
The overriding question is whether Perriman’s insane production over those last five games is at all sustainable. It’s understandable to be skeptical of these numbers because the Bucs were generally finding themselves in shootouts and Jameis Winston was throwing the ball all over the field to pad his stats heading into free agency. Sam Darnold is unlikely to approach next season so recklessly, even though Perriman’s ability to make contested catches is something the Jets needed to bring on board.
Jets fans have seen several players finish the season strong in recent years only to be unable to carry it over to the next season. Dee Milliner, Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez were all examples of this. Even Anderson himself had a slow start in 2019 after a strong finish to 2018 and, as noted above, Perriman often takes a while to hit the ground running in a new home.
Perriman’s 2019 season is a good example of this. He really struggled in the first half of the season, catching just three of 14 targets for 16 yards. Over the next four games, he started contributing more with eight catches on 13 targets for 129 yards and a touchdown. While hardly a sign of what was to come, at least there was some evidence he was gradually growing into his role and just needed more opportunities rather than those five games literally coming from nowhere.
He should get opportunities with the Jets too and, if his confidence is bad when things go against him, the converse should be true coming off last season, so he should be able to head into it with a positive and optimistic approach.