2016 NFL Draft Prospects: Paul Perkins – HB – UCLA

By MICHAEL FAIRLIE //

Projected to be chosen anywhere between the 2nd and 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft, UCLA halfback, Paul Perkins, could end up being the answer to the question of who the New York Jets might target at HB in the upcoming draft.

Perkins, who won the Offensive MVP award in the Alamo Bowl and was named Second-team All-Pac-12 in 2015, has the agility and explosion as well as the vision to make it happen on the NFL level.

A team co-Captain in 2015, the junior halfback from Queen Creek, Arizona wrapped up his college career in style, racking up 1,394 yards on the ground with 14 TD’s to go along with 30 catches for 242 yards and a TD.

Over the course of his tremendous three-year run (two of which he served as the starter) with the Bruins, Perkins totaled 622 carries for 3,491 yards and 29 TD’s, averaging 5.61 yards per rush. He also had 80 receptions for 739 yards and 3 TD’s, averaging 18.9 yards per catch.

A perfect fit for a spread offense, like the one employed by Jets Offensive Coordinator, Chan Gailey, Perkins is viewed by many draft experts as a classic slashing back with the awareness and patience to find the hole in the defense, along with the burst to break away from the pack. He is also a natural pass catcher with exceptional hand-eye coordination and the wherewithal to turn up field, gaining significant yards after the catch.

Incredibly flexible, he can drop down below the arms of tacklers while maintaining balance with his feet, making smooth cuts to avoid obstacles. Perkins then has the ability to quickly straighten himself out and accelerate to full speed in a flash. The extra gear he possesses allowed him to break off several big runs during his time at UCLA, including an 82-yard dash in 2015 and one for 92 yards in 2014.

Despite his lean, athletic frame, Perkins, who stands in at 5’10, 210 pounds, has consistently displayed the toughness to break tackles and square up against linebackers in pass protection. Accomplishing this with more will than power, he is not ideally suited for the role of pass protector or workhorse back.

It is natural to find ways to utilize a guy with his playmaking and breakaway abilities on third down, but it would be advisable to have a fullback or at least an extra blocker in if that’s the case. More of a chip blocker, Perkins will have a difficult time holding up against NFL linebackers.

The ideal situation for Perkins would be to step into a backfield with a team that already has a bruiser at the position. If the Jets can somehow bring back Chris Ivory, Perkins would make the perfect complement to him with his shifty running style and pass catching ability. He simply does not have the build to carry the ball 25-30 times a game at the NFL level, although there have been many over the years that have made us eat our words on that matter.

One thing that you can say for sure is that Perkins has the skillset, toughness and determination to carve himself out a nice career as a pro. The Jets could do much worse than selecting him on Day 2 or 3 of the draft. Considering Perkins’ build and skillset, I could envision him becoming Bilal Powell 2.0, with a higher ceiling.

I remember another halfback out of UCLA that wore number 24 and played for the Jets. His name was Freeman McNeil. He was pretty good. If we could only be so lucky.

You can read my article from 2/2/16 about Chris Ivory and some of the possibilities the Jets have at running back in draft and free agency by clicking the following link:

1,000 Yards And Running

You can read my Jets Pre-Combine Mock Draft article from 2/24/16 by clicking below:

New York Jets Pre-Combine Mock Draft

You can read my article from 2/19/16 on NYJetsNews.Com about a few options for the Jets in the 1st Round of NFL Draft by clicking the following link:

3 Possible NY Jets 1st Round Picks

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