I haven’t really watched any film on running backs this year because in all honesty I think the Bills are pretty set at the position. But being a former running back I had to give some love to at least one back. That back is Paul Perkins of UCLA. He’s played in 39 career games at UCLA and led the PAC 12 in rushing in 2014 with 1,545 yards and 9 touchdowns. But he followed it up with another great year in 2015 with 1,343 and 14 touchdowns. So he finished his collegiate career with 4,227 total yards and 32 touchdowns. Quite productive for a player that lacks the typical size you want to see in a running back.
Perkins measured in at the combine at 5’10” 208 pounds, bench pressed 225 pounds 19 times, a broad jump of 10’4″ and his best forty time was 4.54 seconds. Now if you compare most of those numbers to the RB class, you will see that they are average. But we all know that the metrics at the underwear olympics are just a portion of the draft process. A good chunk of the evaluation lies in the tape, and Paul Perkins’ tape is fun to watch!
One of the most important attributes in a running back is vision. This may be Paul’s best asset. Like when you are playing a really good chess player, Perkins sees a couple moves ahead of defenders.
Pair that vision with his lateral agility and you see special runs after special runs. Like this one versus Stanford.
Now I know a 4.54 forty was just below the combine average of 4.57, but that is still fast enough to take it to the house!
Perkins did play in more of an up tempo spread attack at UCLA, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t run similar concepts to what the Bills employ under Greg Roman. Perkins knows how to set up his blocks as well as anyone in this draft. He is a very decisive runner regardless of run concept.
Perkins shows extreme patience to the play-side run, but as the LB attempts the kill shot he uses the energy to spin backside for the big run. Perkins averaged 2.3 yard per carry after contact.
He is a slippery runner. He always seems to either make the first guy miss with a sick juke or like on this play he absorbs the blow by one of the best linebackers in the country then presses on.
Perkins is able to absorb blows so well because he has great balance. Check out how the initial contact knocks him back but he gathers and gains another few yards. It’s quite impressive!
On 4th and 1 he is met in the back field but he manages to put his hand down, keep his balance and capitalize against the Trojans. He should’ve been tackled in the back-field.
Perkins caught 80 passes for 739 yards and 3 TDs in his collegiate career. A lot of those receptions were on swing passes and screens. In 2015, he caught 30 balls for 242 yards and 1 TD.
Just get the ball in his hands, he is special and almost guaranteed to make the first guy miss.
The only weaknesses I see in Paul Perkins’ game are his size and his pass blocking. As I mentioned he played in a spread, RPO system. So the QB reads and passes were quick, which meant that he didn’t have to block much. But when he did he was average. On this play he whiffs on the cut block and the defender deflects the pass.
But then you see film cut ups of him stonewalling defenders up the gut. I think what it comes down to is that he needs to be more consistent and work on his technique.
Now I know that Ezekiel Elliot is this years consensus #1 running back, but I don’t think many people appreciate the kind of back Perkins is. He was slowed by a knee injury for most of the year after the Cal game, but still played. He was a team captain who touched the ball about 20 times a game, averaged 108 yards per game and .82 TDs a game in his career. In 2015 alone, he averaged 21 touches a game, 133 yards per game and 1 TD a game.
For a guy of his stature I saw the ability to absorb blows, run with power and with finesse. Of his 237 carries in 2015, 118 of them were up the middle and he averaged 4.8 yards per carry according to Real Football Network. Perkins is a back that shows the patience needed in the Bills pin and pull scheme, the ability to set up the block and cut against the grain. Very similar to what Shady and even Mike Gillislee displayed late in the year.
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) April 9, 2016
He obviously wouldn’t be the starter in Buffalo, but I kid you not he could challenge for the back-up role. The running back position had its share of injuries last year, Perkins wouldn’t be a bad addition if he fell to the third round. Yes, I know there are more pressing needs but can Shady make it through a whole season? Karlos has had his share of injuries too, can he be counted on? Perkins is a valuable running back to any team because he is a balanced back. He can play in man, gap or zone schemes. He has the ability to run up the middle, something that the Bills are going to have to do this year as teams will be spending the entire off-season devising ways to stop the pin and pull sweep.
Paul can break tackles catch the ball and he possesses the elusiveness in the screen and passing game. He will be a commodity in this draft. Doug Whaley paid a visit to the UCLA pro day, was he looking for Shady’s eventual replacement? Maybe not, but that was probably the most exciting film I got to breakdown this off-season, what do you think?