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Samaje Perine Scouting Report: Anything but average

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A bowling ball, but with agility.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

There seems to be more and more running back talent coming into the NFL. Of the top twenty rushers this year, eleven came into the league as recently as 2014, and the two top rushers were both rookies. The NFL seems to be trending in the direction of having a handful of very good, young running backs and this draft class promises to provide a lot more of that talent. Running backs are volume players. A starting runner will get 20-30 touches a game and is basically bound to produce in some capacity. So when being productive is not enough, it is important to see how those yards are created and if a player maximizes their touches as much as possible. However, when a running back like Samaje Perine is only the second leading rusher on a highly explosive Oklahoma offense, there is going to be an assumption that he's average.

Yeah... about that.

Samaje Perine may have been out-rushed this season by fellow 2017 prospect, Joe Mixon, but Perine has been a key cog in the Sooners offense since his freshman year. In three seasons, Perine accounted for over 4100 yards rushing at six yards a carry and a whopping 49 touchdowns on the ground. While his numbers dipped after an incredible freshman season due to Joe Mixon taking caries away, Perine never rushed for less than 1000 yards or 12 touchdowns.

What stands out about Perine initially is his build. He is a low to the ground back and has the consistency of a brick. Oklahoma lists him at 5-10, 235, but I would guess he is no more than 5-9 with a bit more weight on him. His build is notable because it makes him so hard to tackle. He has natural leverage as runner and really incredible balance.


Perine is an incredibly powerful back due to his leverage, incredible lower body strength, and a hard running style where his feet never stop. These traits alone allow him to create yardage outside the structure of an offense. While the Oklahoma offense certainly creates space by running out of the spread, Perine's ability to fight through contact alleviates any concern about pro translation or ability to be a dynamic NFL back.

While Perine is a powerful player, to just call him a "power back" would surely diminish his truly freaky athletic ability on the field.

I mean, look at this!


That is 235 pounds jump cutting and accelerating immediately to house a long run. Samaje Perine is an evidently special athlete.

So let's review what Perine can do: Samaje Perine is a short, well built, powerful, hard-running back, who has excellent agility for his size, incredible balance and breakaway speed.

Wanna see all those traits in one play?


I think you get the point by now.

Honestly, it is a mystery as to why a back so gifted and productive is getting underrated the way Perine is, and I suppose it has a lot to do with Joe Mixon, but there is no understating how talented number 32 is.

As a third down back, Perine is an experienced and incredibly reliable pass protector. He does not have a lot of experience catching the ball, mostly due to Mixon's role in the backfield as a receiver. When Perine does get involved in the passing game, he has nice moments getting yards from the back field or going out and running routes, showing enough where I would not be worried about his place there at the next level.

NFL Comparison: It is hard not to watch Samaje Perine without thinking of Maurice Jones-Drew. Both were bowling ball running backs that had surprising agility and breakaway speed. Jones Drew was an excellent receiver both in college and in the NFL and that aspect of Perine is a bit of a mystery at this point, but their running styles are incredibly similar.

I do not see a lot of holes in Perine's game and I am comfortable in saying he is the best back in this class not named Dalvin Cook. He has a rare physical skill set with upside to get better. Even if he is average as a receiver, he still gives an offense a powerful, creative back who has the athletic ability to score on any carry. His vision and physical tools make him scheme diverse, so I do not worry about an odd fit in the Eagles system besides the coaches possibly valuing a more polished receiving back.

Also it is worth noting that no one has ever had a bad thing to say about Samaje Perine. His teammates and coaching staff love him and Oklahoma's Sports Enhancement director compared his work ethic and ability to some former Sooner named Adrian Peterson. Perine is an awesome, talented player and there is not any reason, on or off the field, that he should not be a top 50 pick and one of the first few running backs taken.