With a new era potentially on the horizon in the Minnesota Vikings’ backfield, can this Oklahoma running back fill the void?
Lost in the shuffle of the off the field chaos of his backfield counterpart in Joe Mixon, Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine continued being productive. Perine recorded career lows in attempts (196), rushing yards (1,006) and touchdowns (12) last season, but this was due to playing in only 10 games after playing in 13 each of his previous two seasons.
Listed at 5-foot-10, 235 pounds, Perine is not an elusive runner by any stretch of the imagination, but he is decisive and doesn’t waste time behind the line of scrimmage. He is strictly a north-south runner, who hits holes fast once he decides on where to go.
The biggest question mark that most have with Perine is will he be able to consistently make NFL defenders miss when he has one-on-one opportunities in space. This is an area he was inconsistent in at Oklahoma.
Scouts also question his overall speed, as many say he’s only shown to have one gear. Will he be able to adjust to the speed of the NFL game? That’s a question that won’t be answered until Perine’s first NFL in-game action.
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The Sooner ball carrier does have a low center of gravity combined with a thick lower base, enabling him to occasionally evade arm tackles. As a result of this, he is a natural low to the ground runner, having the natural pad level leverage over defenders.
Perine wasn’t asked to catch out of the backfield much (40 career catches), but when he was involved in the passing game, he looked like a natural catching the ball.
Many running backs who are not used to catching the ball look lost once they receive it or have multiple drops. This is not the case with Perine, as he averaged a career high 10.6 yards per catch in 2016.