I got in touch with several writers on the college football blogs. I wanted to get their thoughts on the Redskins newest draft picks and ask a few more revealing questions about how these players fit on the team and their chances of making an impact either immediately or down the line. Jack Shields of Crimson And Cream Machine gave us some great information regarding new Redskin RB Samaje Perine.
Cadillactica: Could you give us your impression of what the Oklahoma coaches thought of Perine while at Oklahoma?
Jack Shields: It’s been said that when Samaje Perine first visited Oklahoma’s campus as a recruit, there were many in the building who assumed that he was somebody’s dad. Part of that was likely due to his physical build and full facial hair, but a lot of it likely had to do with the way in which he carried himself. He’s always been described as someone who is mature beyond his years. He’s never been in trouble off the field. He always gives great answers to members of the media. I can’t think of a single instance in which anyone has said anything bad about him as a person.
Bob Stoops and his staff have always spoken glowingly of Perine both as a player and as a human being. His prowess in the weight room is something they’d bring up a lot, and for good reason. He has the ability to lift more than most linemen (he did 30 reps of 225 on the bench at the NFL Combine and has supposedly done as many as 35 in the past), and he’s become known for having a tireless work ethic. As a football player, Stoops puts him in the same sentence with guys like Adrian Peterson and Demarco Murray (both of whom played for him at Oklahoma).
Cadillactica: Coach Jay Gruden has said he likes Perine's toughness and physicality. Many think Perine can take the running back job outright from current starter Robert Kelley. And it was rumored that Perine was the Redskins 4th running back on their draft board (below Fournette, McCaffery, and Cook but above players like Kamara etc). Do you think Perine is can be a lead back in the NFL and what do you think of his fit in the Redskins power run scheme?
Jack Shields: He can definitely shoulder the load when healthy. He carried the ball 25+ times on 10 occasions during his college career, and he hit the 30-carry mark on five occasions (three of which came while sharing a backfield with Joe Mixon). He was slowed up a bit as a sophomore by an ankle injury (which required surgery after the season) and missed three games in the middle of his junior season with a pulled muscle in his leg. His absence due to the latter injury was mostly a precaution, as the coaches decided to make sure he was fully recovered. So, in summary, he’s a workhorse back who has a history of fairly minor injuries. He’s definitely someone who fits into the scheme there, so if said injuries can be kept to a minimum, he could have a long career with the Redskins.
Cadillactica: Recently there has been a trend where the Redskins are looking to select big, tough, and physical players. Former GM Scot McCloughan just referred to them as “football players”. The Redskins have been looking for a smash mouth running back for a few years now and tried things with Matt Jones, Robert Kelley both of which produced disappointing to average results. What will make Perine a franchise RB in your view?
Jack Shields: Many of the most successful guys in the league didn’t exactly come off the board quickly in the draft, and those guys got to where they are by outworking their peers. I think Perine is the type of person who will do just that in the NFL.
Cadillactica: Could you describe what kinds of back Perine is? Is he consistent? Streaky? Does he require a certain number of carries to get going? Can the Redskins rely on him for a few breakaway runs or is his best football in the trenches and in the red zone?
Jack Shields: Obviously, Perine’s has exceptional power as a runner. However, he also has exceptional vision, and he’s pretty agile for a back of his size. His top-end speed isn’t elite, but he isn’t exactly slow (ran a 4.65 at the NFL Combine and a 4.59 at Pro Day). He broke off some long touchdown runs during his collegiate career, and I think he could potentially do it at the next level under the right circumstances. He definitely won’t be relied on as a home-run threat, but don’t be surprised if he breaks off a long one if he can get through a stacked line, for instance.
In a good chunk of his most productive games, Perine really got going in the second half of action. Another thing worth pointing out is that many of his best games came in poor weather conditions. When he set the NCAA record for rushing yards in a game, it was raining and barely above freezing, and he faced similar conditions when he ran for 239 yards on 37 carries against Oklahoma State last December. He also gained 160 against West Virginia in a blizzard (2016), 188 against TCU in freezing temperatures (2015) and 166 against Baylor in a cold downpour (2015). Most kids from Central Texas aren’t used to those conditions, but Perine seems to embrace it. If you need someone to shoulder the load in a December game at Philly or New York, Perine might be your guy.
Cadillactica: Could you sum up his play in a single word or phrase?
Jack Shields: If I had to use one word or phrase to describe him as a football player, it would probably have to be 'efficient'. He gets every chunk of yardage made available to him and then some. For someone who has been labeled as a 'power runner', a 6.0 yards-per-carry average as a college back is pretty damn impressive (even against sub-par Big 12 defenses).
We’ve talked a lot about Perine already on the board but this only reinforces my excitement about him. He isn't flashy and he isn’t likely to hit many home runs but he is an effective and efficient player that seems to be capable of a workhorse load. He could be a real weapon for the Redskins game in and game out if the commitment to the running game/strategy is consistent. If the defense is even marginally improved from last year he should be getting 15-20 carries per game easily. The kid seems like a real class act. I’m rooting for him all the way.