RB La’Mical Perine was drafted with the 14th pick in the 4th round (#120) of the 2020 NFL Draft. He was a part of the University of Florida offense each of his four years there. He had 493 total carries as a committee type running back never getting as much as 140 carries in a single year. He also had 72 receptions in his career with more than half (40) coming in his senior campaign.
Perine was a highly recruited RB and S prospect coming out of Alabama. He also was a forward on his high school basketball team that went to the State Championship. Perine had great aspirations while in high school. He worked diligently to become better. He looked at his basketball/football playing like a trainer.
“It helps with conditioning, with both sports, you do a lot of running, and I play running back and get 30 carries a game, so it really helps.” Perine said as a high school junior.
This next quote is directly from Perine’s writings about his future plans in high scool. “I will do today what others don’t so I will have tomorrow what others won’t. This applies to academics and athletics. I feel like that is the only thing that is going to set me apart from the rest of my competition. I also feel like the poorest man in the world is not the man without money. It’s the man without a dream. My dream is to not just play in the NFL, but to one day own an NFL franchise.”
Perine’s work ethic was well known at Florida, and you can see he has the kind of “can do, will do” mindset that gives him a shot at becoming relevant in the NFL. You can also see why the coaches at Florida considered Perine a very high character player.
Perine comes from a football background as his father Terrance played for Auburn. His son, though, didn’t like the Tigers.
“I’m not an Auburn fan at all, they recruited me a little bit. But I didn’t have an offer from them. They told me I was too slow. You can tell on my film, you can tell I’m not that slow. They had their opinion,” Perine said.
His cousin is Samaje Perine who played at Oklahoma in college. He set an NCAA rushing record of 427 yards (as a freshman) in 2014 vs Kansas. Samaje was drafted by Washington but now plays for the Cincinnati Bengals.
When I originally scouted Perine I did so by watching only 5 games. That was a mistake as Perine was in a committee. He never had as many as 18 carries in a single game in 2019 and only did once in 2018. He had 14 carries against South Carolina but only 19 total the next 4 games combined. He did add 11 receptions for 92 yards and 2 TDs during that same time as he developed his receiving skills.
Perine has real good size for a RB (5’ 11” 218 lbs) with powerful thighs. He has great balance while running with good body lean. He not real elusive, but he reads blocks well then makes quick decisions to find the correct lane to fill. He is not adroitly athletic, but he is a gamer, a player who gives his all every play he is on the field.
Perine is not really all that fast (4.62/40), but he shows here why the speed of a running back is very overrated. Quickness, vision, elusiveness, decision making, power, and tackle breaking are all skills that are far more needed than speed. Here you have that slow running back against Virginia in the Gators bowl game showing his lack of speed.
Watch as Perine finds the correct lane to fill as he searches down the line. The backside guard pulls to lead him through the hole, but Perine sees the RILB fill that hole so he cuts back left to find the next gap free of defenders. When the RCB slips trying to make the tackle, Perine is off to the races. The safety to that side takes a poor angle on the play which gives Perine the chance to outrace him to the end zone. This just shows that Perine is not some plodding power back. He has some juice in his game.
Plays like these will be few if any for Perine in the NFL, but even if the RCB could have made the play Perine was looking to have at least a 1st down if not more. Very few RBs have the speed to outrace NFL CBs or safeties to the end zone. It just doesn’t happen. So even if Perine was a tenth of a second faster he still would be too slow to have NFL breakaway speed. He didn’t need to show his power or tackle breaking ability in order to make a splash play here. Yet those are the skills that will be the meat and potatoes of Perine’s career.
In the same game Perine shows his quick feet and decisiveness when the intended path of the play is blown up by the defense. By quickly moving left Perine finds an opening which leads to a straight shot to the end zone.
You can see that Perine shows fluidity in his movements with nimble footwork that is aided by good vision. Perine is again assisted by a defender (safety) slipping as he comes to seal the hole. Yet it doesn’t take away from the subtle moves plus the quick acceleration that he shows on the play.
This next play is another splash play you won’t see Perine making in the NFL anytime soon, but it does highlight a few of his positive traits. Again he shows enough speed to outrun an ILB for an 88 yard TD that broke a tight game open.
From the pistol formation this is just a simple zone read off tackle play with the QB faking like he kept the ball. Perine gets hit in the hole at the line of scrimmage, but he shows tackle breaking ability plus great balance. He then accelerates into the secondary where he breaks another tackle for the playside safety so he is off to the races. Again Perine shows he is not some lumbering power back who is easily run down in the open. Perine is not going to run away from NFL defenders, but he does have enough effective speed.
Here is another play where the initial hole is filled yet he finds a way into the end zone; if only barely. Vision and balance along with enough power are the skillsets shown on the play.
This was a key play in the game near the end of the first half that gave the Gators the momentum for a comeback win. The Gators rode Perine in the game for 23 carries (his career high) for 123 yards and a career high in receiving yards (93) on 4 receptions as well. Although he is not nearly as proficient as Le’Veon Bell he has a similar skill set with vision, power and receiving abilities.
You can see why the Jets wanted to draft Perine as he could be a poor man’s replacement for Le’Veon Bell should he get injured. The Jets would not have to change their game plan as Perine would seamlessly slip right into the lineup. With many college teams running spread type offensive systems the Jets selected Perine who ran in an offense that mirrored the offenses that Bell has run in the NFL.
Here against Miami Perine is looking to follow the pulling left guard through the hole in a play that is poorly blocked. These next two plays will show the variety in skills. The guard whiffs on his block while the right side of the line is pushed back.
Perine is able to break a tackle in the backfield which would have resulted in a two yard loss. He then pivots away from the OLB who avoided the block of the guard. Perine quickly gets through the hole staying low and is tackled by the right side safety along with the defensive end from the right edge. The result was a 3 yard gain in the red zone on a broken play.
This is the very next play, a 3rd down situation with the Gators trailing with time running out in the 1st half. These interstate rivalry games are always hard fought contests featuring players who many time have known each other for years. Some of these opponents are related so there are bragging rights on the line that could last for your entire life with family members in the stands and watching on TV.
This is basically the same formation without the motion man to the play side of the field. This isn’t a dump off pass, It is a route run out of the backfield with precision by Perine. He must quickly beat the OLB into the center of the field by crossing his face while gaining separation to give himself room. This is a 3rd down play so Perine needs at least 7 yards but he would prefer a TD. The play is run to perfection as Perine is able to catch the pass and score before the defense can converge on him.
This is where I think the Jets found the value in Perine as he was able to develop solid receiving skills by working on his hands and his route running between his junior and senior seasons. Perine has capable rushing skills but nothing Earth shattering,. These skills combined with his receiving skills are what make him stand out. He also did this from an NFL type offense, not the type of spread system that makes average players look great.
Perine had at least one reception in every game his senior year. He ended with 40 receptions on the year in 13 games which is remarkable for a from a player who worked in a timeshare. Although he is not as skilled a receiver as a normal wideout he brings unusual toughness as well as running back abilities to the to the receiver position.
This next play is again from the bowl game with Perine out wide as a receiver to the left side. This is a simple stop route with the QB getting the ball out late which allows the defender to get back into the play.
Feeling the defender closing in with his back to the play, Perine spins to his right to avoid the on rushing corner. This is now where Perine has an advantage with his powerful thighs and superior contact balance this is a tough tackle for any DB. Perine breaks the tackle then glides on into the end zone for the defense can converge.
This next play shows the depth of Perine’s receiving skills as he is again split out wide to the left but this time runs a fade route into the corner of the end zone. This ball is again poorly thrown. It should be to the back corner of the end zone, but instead it is tossed to the sideline midway across the goal line.
Perine has his man beat, but the underthrown ball allows the cornerback into the play and the safety to come across the field. This play was initially called incomplete, but was ruled a TD after review. Despite the two defenders Perine is able to get his feet down.
Another advantage to having a quality running back with receiving skills is in the open field. Running backs usually have good vision to make it through traffic at the line. When they are in the open field it gives them more time to find the seam in the defense to gain extra yards.
When Perine goes in motion this makes the pass is like a long handoff. It also gets him to the edge much quicker, before the defense can flow that way. You can see the safety in this defense who has coverage on Perine has a long way to go to catch up to his man which aids in his missed tackle. Perine is able to make the safety miss, then another man before he is corralled by a host of defenders.
Perine also impressed at the Senior Bowl practices with his abilities as a runner and a receiver. He is not overly physical but gets the tough yard plus he showed great hands to the NFL scouts. Here he runs a simple screen pass which leads to paydirt.
Perine is patient. He waits for the play to develop before working out into the flat for the pass. Playing with teammates he has never worked with before plus and little time to practice, this was an exceptional job. He is able to read the blocks, find a seam, then power his way into the end zone for the first score of the game.
La’Mical Perine was a hard-working, well-liked player by both coaches and teammates at Florida. He was said to be a high character person who was a team player. He was more of a committee back that had lead back skills. This is an advantage. Perine had but 565 total touches at Florida in 4 years so he has plenty of tread left on the tires.
Perine is a tough between the tackles runner with great balance, tackle breaking ability and solid hands. In fact he was said to rarely drop passes, even in practice. He is a physical player who has special teams experience with solid vision, great patience as a runner, and advanced receiving skills for a running back.
He is not the speediest running back, and he will need to work on pass protection if he wants to be on the field in 3rd down situations. He is a straight ahead runner with limited elusiveness who gets what is blocked and at least a little more. He has worked in pro style offenses against some of the best teams in college football. He has played in many big games in front of some huge, angry crowds so the NFL is not going to be a huge leap for him.
Perine is solid yet occasionally unspectacular. He has limited game changing abilities but he is effective in his role as a runner and receiver. He can fit into the Jets system seamlessly in a Le”veon Bell role as a change of pace back.
I had underrated Perine in my scouting. I had him as an early 5th round talent (albeit in a stacked Draft), but I now believe he should have been rated a round higher. He has a solid skill set with above average receiving skills. His high character grade should have moved him higher by itself. He can be a quality player as a backup and a special teamer until he gets his chance to shine. Perine will never be a star but he can be a excellent player in a Bilal Powell type role who can impress when called upon.
That is what I think....
What do you think?