Paul Perkins is currently a fringe top-100 prospect that may actually surprise you. With UCLA, he led the Pac-12 in rushing in 2014, accumulating 1,575 rushing yards and nine touchdowns including six 100-yard performances. He followed that up in 2015 with 1,343 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns including five 100-yard games (was less than five yards shy in two others). As a receiver, Perkins contributed an additional 242 yards and one touchdown. Despite his stats, Perkins has been an underrated performer within the Pac-12 as both Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and Utah’s Devontae Booker seemed to take the spotlight. As UCLA started to struggle, Perkins’ draft stock took a bit of a downward turn and he has slipped in positional rankings. However, when you watch him on tape, you see several qualities that should translate well to the NFL and help him be a contributor early.
Weight: 200 lbs
Perkins is a patient runner who displays good vision, reads the play well, and possesses the athleticism to break through the whole. He’s a smooth runner with good acceleration, capable of making big plays in the open field. He relies on balance, rather than power, to break tackles and continue pushing for extra yards. He’s a willing blocker despite a higher pad-level. Perkins shows understanding to be a productive receiver with good hands to make plays after the catch and good coordination. When describing Perkins, the first word that comes to mind is slasher.
The clips below are from the UCLA vs. Stanford game. In this game, Paul Perkins carried the ball 14 times for 104 yards and a touchdown. He added two receptions for 16 yards in the game. While Stanford won convincingly, 56-35, Perkins demonstrates some of the traits we mentioned earlier.
While a willing blocker, he is still developing the IQ to succeed. Because he plays with a high-pad level, it makes it difficult for him to square on linebackers and lacks the lower body strength to drive defenders. While he’s a shifty runner, he lacks the lateral agility to be a game changer on sweeps. As mentioned before, he’s not overly physical and doesn’t possess the power to push through a pile on short-yardage situations. Perkins’ also has a bit of an injury history which, combined with his lean, wiry frame, brings to question his durability at the next level.
Perkins should be an intriguing talent as his versatility allows him to make an impact as a runner and receiver. However, scouts will be leary of his frame and injury history. If Perkins can prove he is healthy, add weight, and perform well at the combine, he’ll see his draft stock climb. He will not be an immediate starter, but should find ways to contribute and potentially grow into that role.
Round Projection: 4th Round