Paul Perkins was a three-star recruit coming out of Chandler High School in Arizona. While he redshirted his freshman year, he earned the starting role in his sophomore year and ended up leading the Pac-12 in rushing yardage. As a redshirt junior, he performed well again and was named Second-team All-Pac-12. He has NFL pedigree, as both his father and uncle played in NFL backfields. Perkins chose to enter the 2016 NFL Draft.
|November 16, 1994
|Bench (225 lbs.)
|20 Yard Shuttle
|3 Cone Drill
|40 Yard Dash (10 yd. split)
|60 Yard Shuttle
|237 att, 1,343 yards, 5.7 ypc, 14 TDs
|30 rec, 242 yards, 8.1 ypc, 1 TDs
|250 att, 1,572 yards, 6.3 ypc, 9 TDs
|26 rec, 201 yards, 7.7 ypc, 2 TDs
|134 att, 573 yards, 4.3 ypc, 6 TDs
|24 rec, 296 yards, 12.3 ypc, 0 TDs
- Has a nice juke more to make bait defenders in and make them miss with elusiveness
- Has good, but not great short area quickness, will make some defenders miss but can’t get past everyone
- Often tries to set up a defender too soon in one-on-one situations. Stutters towards defender and ends up not being able to make elusive move
- Has good balance, is able to stay on feet through contact around his legs
- Inconsistent explosion through holes, occasionally explodes well (especially one cut runs) but sometimes look sluggish
- Can get to edge against college defenders but might not be as effective at the next level
- Mediocre long speed at best, doesn’t break long runs or break away from defenders, slow for his weight
- Reacts well to backfield penetration and understand how to work his way back to the line of scrimmage
- Shows great patience as a runner; waits for holes to open and then exploits them
- Often has poor technique when blocking defenders one-on-one, gets defeated often
- Cut blocking is poor as well, often ineffective when he chooses to cut block
- Can make more than just the simple catches, but doesn’t have special open field elusiveness in the passing game
- There’s no real reason for him to see the field on third downs
This article has multiple pages, examining different traits that Perkins displays, and discussing whether or not those traits bode well for his transition to the NFL game. The first three pages deal with his running traits, while the fourth page covers his work in the passing game and the last includes projections for Perkins in the NFL.
In order to watch Perkins, I went to Draft Breakdown, which has six of his college games.
As a runner, Perkins doesn’t profile as a great athlete. His burst isn’t great, and his short area quickness is pretty good but leaves things to be desired. He also doesn’t have the long speed to run away from defenders.
However, where Perkins shines in his understanding of the game. He sets himself and his linemen up for success, and that leads to consistently picking up positive yardage. He sees holes before they open, and that will translate well to the NFL level. He also shows good technique with his pad level, and strong leg drive, which allows him to generate a little bit of power despite his lack of size.
Throughout his tape, Perkins really consistently good vision and decision making as a runner. Whether it was pressing the hole, working behind his blockers, or finding a cutback lane, Perkins found ways to avoid losing yardage, or gaining extra yards to finish off a run.
He also showed strong decision making skills, and consistently had the ability to get positive yardage in unfavorable situations. Other RBs may be more athletically talented and able to win by taking risks to bounce the ball outside, but at the NFL their athletic talent will be, for the most part, matched by defenders, so they need to learn to make proper decisions on the next level. Perkins won’t need to learn that lesson.
The first play above shows Perkins making a good decision by cutting the run up the field and accepting a short gain. This kind of decision-making was consistent throughout Perkins game, and it means that he won’t have struggles where he tries to bounce runs and ends up losing a lot of yardage. Keeping the offense on schedule is important, and Perkins can do it.
The second play shows good vision and an understanding of how to set up blockers for success. Perkins cuts across his blocker, which allows his lineman to be successful on his block but also bait a second level defender and give Perkins the room to burst past him. That little hesitation allowed Perkins to score the TD on this run.
On the third play, Perkins does a great job of finding an open cutback lane, but can’t quite burst past the LB on the edge. He consistently reads his blockers well and can find and get skinny through small holes, like with the fourth play.
Perkins also has the ability to understand what is going to happen on a play before it does. Like a QB throwing with anticipation, it’s important for RBs to understand where holes are going to open up, because they close quickly. Perkins runs with a plan, and it shows in the fifth play above, where he clearly baits the defenders (making contact with one before spinning) to draw them to the inside and then running back in the other direction in wide open space.
Perkins does not have great size, and running over defenders with power will not be his strength in the NFL. However, as a runner Perkins has a strong motor and runs with good pad level, which does enable him to gain yardage after contact. As defenders get bigger and stronger at the next level, Perkins will never be a powerful inside runner, but he should be able to gain some yardage between the tackles.
On the first play above, the key to Perkins getting into the end zone is that he keeps his legs moving through contact. He keeps churning, and that allows him to keep moving forward. He also keeps his pads low, and spins off of contact to keep his momentum heading forward, and is able to fall into the end zone.
The second play shows more drive from Perkins, and he gets extra yardage after realizing his knees didn’t touch the ground. On the third play, he uses good pad level and knocks a defender backwards. Perkins’ strong leg drive shows itself again on the fourth play.
However, as mentioned above, Perkins doesn’t have the size to push the pile like some other RBs in this class. This will limit his usefulness in short yardage situation, where technique is still important, but size also comes into play. This is clear from the fifth play, where he fails to get any push at the goal line.