A three-year starter at Oklahoma, Perine put himself on the NFL radar as a true freshman when he broke Melvin Gordons week-old FBS single-game rushing record. A four-star running back recruit out of high school, Perine grew up outside of Austin, but the Longhorns werent a consideration for him because he wanted to move away from home for college, committing to Oklahoma over Alabama, Tennessee and Nebraska. He was the second-highest rated running back recruit in the Sooners 2014 class, but with Joe Mixon suspended for the season, Perine had the opportunity to make a name for himself. And Perine did just that with 1,713 rushing yards (second-most in school history for a freshman) and 21 rushing touchdowns, taking home a number of accolades including Freshman All-American and First Team All-Big 12 honors. He started all 13 games as a sophomore and again led Oklahoma in rushing with 1,349 yards and 16 touchdowns to earn First Team All-Big 12 honors. Perine battled injuries as a junior in 2016 (nine starts) and shared the workload with Mixon, finishing second on the team with 1,060 rushing yards and 12 scores, taking home Second Team All-Big 12 honors.
Leaving Norman as the all-time leading rusher in Sooners history, Perine moves loose for such a muscular frame and runs with the determined toughness to squirm through contact and keep his momentum. He is very dependent on the blocking in front of him and lacks the initial burst or elusiveness to consistently create on his own. However, his combination of balance, physicality and short-area agility as a downhill runner are reminiscent of former NFL back Michael Turner. Perine is NFL ready with the reliable football character and blocking skills to keep him on the field.
STRENGTHS: Sculpted NFL physique with muscles that have muscles. Flexible lower body with smooth acceleration out of his cuts. Runs with excellent balance, pad level and leg drive to keep his forward momentum and power through contact. Steps out of tackles as well as any back at the college level. Physical demeanor and runs behind his pads to run over defenders and power for every inch rarely denied in short-yardage. Follows his blocks well. Alert and aggressive in pass protection, stepping up to deliver blows without giving ground. Clamps the ball with a strong grip, not allowing defenders to rip it out, averaging one fumble every 120.8 offensive touches in college. No-nonsense workhorse and takes a pounding. Strong work habits in and away from the weight room. Rushed for 1,000+ rushing yards each of the past three seasons, breaking Billy Sims all-time rushing record at Oklahoma (4,122).
WEAKNESSES: Ordinary long-speed and lacks a finishing gear. Not elusive in tight quarters and will bypass open lanes for the chance to lower his pads and attack contact. Tends to stubbornly follow the play design instead of bouncing runs outside needs to widen his vision and be more creative setting up his moves. Doesnt have ideal play burst and occasionally late through lanes. Doesnt have a large catch radius as a receiver and this area of his game requires development. Production (carries, yards, yards per carry and touchdowns) declined each of the last three seasons. Physically beat up in college with a laundry list of minor nagging injuries, including a pulled muscle in his right leg (Oct. 2016) that forced him to miss three games as a junior.