Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
Weight: 233 pounds
(percentile rank among all RBs at the Combine since 1999, courtesy of mockdraftable.com):
40-yard dash: 4.65 seconds (24th)
Vertical: 33 inches (30th)
Broad: 116 inches (37th)
3-cone: 7.26 seconds (13th)
20-yard shuttle: 4.37 seconds (24th)
If you follow college football more closely than I do, then you probably at least started to be aware of Perine in 2014.
That’s when he set the FBS record with 427 rushing yards on 34 carries against Kansas—5 of which led him to the end zone. Perine surpassed 200 yards 2 other times that year and finished with 4 consecutive outings of 23+ carries and 134+ yards. Perine earned 1st-team All-Big 12 and 3rd-team All-America honors that year, along with the conference Offensive Newcomer of the Year award.
Joe Mixon took the field in 2015 and cut into Perine’s carries. The incumbent went from a 47.5% share of Oklahoma’s rushing attempts in 2014 to 40.1% in his sophomore campaign. But Perine still hit 100+ yards rushing 5 times – including a 201-yard game – and again finished 1st-team all-conference.
Mixon claimed a larger share last season, which combined with several minor injuries to leave Perine with 34.8% of the team carries. The junior remained plenty productive, though, eclipsing 100 yards 4 times and 200 yards twice. He earned 2nd-team All-Big 12 status.
(Courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com)
Games watched: Baylor (2014), Baylor (2015), Baylor, Auburn, Clemson (2015)
It's like a template at this point.
This year features a crowd of solid RB performers, plenty of whom could fare well in the right situation—or disappear from relevance in the wrong one. Add Perine to that stack.
The 3-year Sooner presents a total package of solid, with no fancy frills.
You’re gonna enjoy him if he’s on your team. Perine’s a classic, hard-working, fall-forward back. Watch him finish these runs …
Including 1 with a little agility …
You won’t see a whole lot more than that on the agility side with him, though, just as the Combine testing numbers suggest. The speed looks OK on tape—seemingly closer to Texas’ D’Onta Foreman than their respective 40 times suggest.
But Perine isn’t going to create space or yardage with his moves. He’s a hard charger, with the vision to find an opening (even as he bounces off a tackler to pick up this 1st down) …
… a stiff arm capable of smacking down meek tackle attempts …
… and even the ability to hit the home run when the lane opens up in front of him.
What’s most attractive about Perine, however, is that he’s ready to step on the field as soon as you need him, in various situations.
He might present the body of an “early-down back,” but Perine’s ready to punch a pass rusher in the mouth.
The 5 games I watched didn’t show off any special receiving skill, but 40 catches across 3 years in an offense with other options suggests he’s at least not a liability in this area. Perine should be able to handle checkdowns, screens and dump-offs.
And as a ball carrier, he started his college career by averaging 20.2 carries per outing. So there’s more than just the body that you’d expect to hold up to a heavy load.
That might have seemed like a load of straight positivity about a guy who’ll probably get drafted in the 5th round. Well, don’t get me wrong.
Perine’s no stud. You can tell that by his agility tests. You can tell that by watching him. I shared gifs of the good stuff. Much of the rest looked like your average RB.
From here, Perine looks like the safe version of D’Onta Foreman. The Longhorn likely comes with the higher athletic ceiling. The Sooner is far more ready to contribute right now—for both his NFL team and your fantasy football squad.
The decreases in carries and yards per rush over the past 2 years don't bother me at all. As I mentioned above, Mixon arrived in 2015 and is clearly the bigger talent. The fact that Perine continued to lead the backfield in attempts speaks to his continued performance and the respect of his coaches. And unless you're a truly elite talent, you're not going to stay at or above 6.0 yards per carry as a high-volume runner.
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein lists Michael Turner as Perine’s pro comparison. That’s interesting. Turner flashed across 4 years with the Chargers and then busted out with terrific rushing volume in a good situation with the Falcons. But Turner ran the 40 in 4.49—a 70th percentile number among all backs and even better for a guy north of 230 pounds. He also beat Perine handily in the 20-yard shuttle (4.21 seconds, 57th percentile) but trailed him in the 3-cone drill.
PlayerProfiler.com points to Jordan Howard as Perine’s Best Comparable. That’s probably even more interesting.
Turner happened a while ago. Howard happened just last year. And he was a 5th-round pick who looked solid but not spectacular on college tape and landed in a backfield with opportunity.
In the right place, it’s not hard to envision Perine quickly winning the favor of coaches. Should he land somewhere such as Carolina, Oakland or Washington, then you might well want to own Perine next fall.
In dynasty, situation will determine whether he’s more than a late 2nd-rounder in rookie drafts. A weak landing spot could make him more of a Round 3 target.