The old mantra is that a player’s best trait is their ability to play. In the 2016 NFL Draft, there are a ton of players that have struggled with injury history. However, Paul Perkins out of UCLA doesn’t fit in that category. Since redshirting in his freshman season, the UCLA backfield has been led by Perkins for the past three years. And now, the redshirt junior finds himself entering the 2016 NFL Draft.
Perkins is a guy that provides some appeal. At 5-foot-11, 210 pounds, Perkins is a guy that has the frame that is needed to run in between the tackles in the NFL. At UCLA, Perkins played in a spread formation, but he showed that he was agile enough to blossom in that scheme as well. Perkins is a guy that isn’t scheme-specific. Let’s take a look at the tape and see how Perkins projects to the NFL.
The ability to create space as a running back is a really special trait. With his use of bounce here, Perkins gets free and scores a touchdown.
This ability is on full display again here. Here’s a clip of Perkins making a play out of the backfield. In UCLA’s spread scheme, Perkins was used often as a receiver.
Coaches always say “keep your feet moving before being brought down”. Perkins’ frame and his low center of gravity make it extremely difficult for him to be tackled, but Perkins is a nasty finisher as well.
Perkins shows excellent field vision and awareness here as he sees a hole open up in result of the linebacker biting too much on the offensive line going right. Perkins cuts back and gets a big gain.
Another thing I notice about Perkins is how often he makes defenders miss. He excels with spin moves and jukes. In this clip, we see two quick jukes that leave the would-be tacklers in the dust.
I don’t point it out that much, but Perkins is extremely useful in pass protection as well. In this clip, we see Perkins gear his hips so the pass rusher has to take a more outside angle. Perkins also gives him a good hit as well, leaving a clear pocket for Rosen.
In terms of making people miss down the field, Perkins is truly one of, if not, the best at breaking tackles and evading defenders.
One thing I notice about Perkins in the UCLA offense is that they continue to use play-action, making defenses suck in to open up the passing game for freshman quarterback Josh Rosen. This shows to me just how important Perkins is to this offense.
It will be interesting to see which team takes a chance on Perkins. He’s an intriguing prospect, boasting good speed and showing the true makings of a playmaker. I’m not entirely sure if he’s capable of taking on a workhorse load in the NFL, but Perkins still provides some intrigue nevertheless.
How would Perkins fit in Dallas? I’m a big believer in athleticism and speed, especially in today’s NFL. The Cowboys’ scouting department has done well in recent years and despite the Cowboys’ lack of running back talent in 2015, they seemed to survive with Darren McFadden. Drafting a guy like Perkins gives the Cowboys a guy that can make plays in both the running and passing game.
Games watched: Arizona, California, and Stanford.
Next up on the docket: Alex Collins