LaMical Perine has a new home.
The New York Jets have selected the former Gator running back with their 4th round pick, #120 overall. Perine becomes the fifth Gator selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, and the 354th all time draft selection after CJ Henderson went 9th to Jacksonville, Van Jefferson went to the Rams, Jabari Zuniga went to the Jets, and Jon Greenard went to Houston.
The stats are solid, but don’t jump out at you. Part of this is because Perine played four years at Florida with crowded backfields, which diminished his carries, and another part of this is because Florida’s offensive line ranged from mediocre to downright atrocious last season. Yet despite the various handcuffs, Perine still managed to tally 2,485 yards and 22 touchdowns on 493 career rushing attempts. He also caught 72 passes for 674 yards and eight more scores.
However, the tape provides you with a much better look at what LaMical Perine can provide with even adequate blocking help. First and foremost, he protects the rock, having lost just two fumbles in four years. That’s priority number one for NFL teams, and Perine checks that box with a sharpie. Beyond that, he’s a terrific downhill runner with excellent vision, above average balance and a hell of a lot more power than most guys who stand 5’11 and 216 lbs. And though he’s not the fastest running back in the field, he’s more than fast enough to make toast out of you if you’re not careful or take the wrong angle. Just ask Auburn about that.
But the real selling point of Perine is his versatility. His value as a runner is what he’s judged on by most because that’s the name of the position, but anything a team could possibly ask him to do, he can do and do well. He’s reliable at picking up the blitz in pass protection, and a decent run blocker to boot. He was also one of the best pass-catching running backs Florida has ever had, serving as a dependable safety valve that could then use the vision and downhill running style he was recruited for to take over and turn a short pass into a massive gain.
In terms of weaknesses, Perine doesn’t really have any fundamentally. He’s not a speed demon, and he won’t be juking past too many defenders, but that never was his game and he compensated for those issues more than many (read: the Auburn Tigers) thought he would in college. It’s just that if teams are looking for a guy with track speed, Perine isn’t for them.
But Perine is a gritty, blue collar, all around solid running back who can contribute in a variety of fashions at the next level. If he stays healthy, he could enjoy a long career. Congratulations to the Jets on taking one of the toughest, grittiest and hardest working kids in this year’s draft.