A human bowling ball is often referenced to Oklahoma standout running back Samaje Perine, and that is spot on if we’re comparing football players to inanimate objects. Perine enjoyed tremendous production at Oklahoma where he ended his career as the program’s all-time leading rusher, but he also set the single-game rushing record with 427 yards back in 2014 during his freshman year.
While he was outrushed and overshadowed by fellow draft prospect Joe Mixon, Perine had the longevity down in Norman and remained a key cog for the Sooners all three years of his career where he clearly racked up monster production in a high octane offense. Perine was the workhorse of that offense – he carried the ball 37 times in the Big 12 clinching win over Oklahoma State this past season which was the most of any RB during the Bob Stoops era.
A 4-star recruit and Texas native, Perine elected to attend Oklahoma University despite fielding other offers from programs such as Alabama, Nebraska and Tennessee, among other prestigious programs. After pumping out a whopping 30 reps at the combine in the bench press drill, Perine garnered a lot of talk in the early stages of the Scouting Combine, but how does he translate to the next level?
Name: Samaje Perine
Comparison: Maurice Jones-Drew
Draft Grade: Day 3
Positives: Compact build and runs with low center of gravity. Bulky thighs attributes to lower body strength. Blends power and speed. Hits clean holes with burst. Displays power and trucking ability when he gets speed up-field. Provides an extra jolt at the end of runs when he’s wrapped up. Powerful stiff arm. Sneaky balance. Nimble feet when running through traffic. Keeps legs kicking on low tackles. Eats up chunk yardage on inside runs. A bowling ball at the goal-line who can usually find paydirt. Shows potential as a blocker with physical, hard engagement. Team captain. Knocked out 30 bench reps at the combine – tops among RBs. Productive college career – all-time Oklahoma rushing leader. Turns 22 in September.
Negatives: Lacks breakaway speed, elusiveness and top-end vision. Slow accelerator. Runs straight into blockers at times and fails to bounce off them. Struggles to create for himself. Tackled for loss a few times per game. Lacks ideal awareness as a blocker. Will sometimes toss the defender towards the QB or try to hold his block zone too long instead of running out for a pass catch opportunity. Not a viable receiving threat – averaged less than 14 catches in his 3 seasons.
Outlook: Mostly ran out of the shotgun this past year at Oklahoma, but I like him better as an inside runner under center at the next level. He excels at eating up chunk yardage on runs up the middle with his burst, power and balance while ripping off the occasional big gain. Perine can be that guy that comes in on 3rd & short and barrels ahead for the first down or TD at the goal-line. He lacks those elite traits, but he can be a serviceable guy off the bench in the NFL. His running style and build reminds me of Maurice Jones-Drew, although Perine doesn’t match MJD’s agility, shiftiness or breakaway speed. In a deep class of running backs, he’s a solid option at some point on Day 2.