RSP Film Room No.97: RB Samaje Perine (Oklahoma) w/Guest, Ryan Riddle

Matt Waldman of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio examines Running Back Samaje Perine's 2017 NFL Draft Prospects

Matt Waldman of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio examines Running Back Samaje Perine's 2017 NFL Draft Prospects

Ryan Riddle presents an intriguing case for a polarizing prospect.

I owe Ryan Riddle a big thank you. Not only for appearing once again on my show, but for selecting Oklahoma’s “other” running back Samaje Perine and “Benjamin Buttoning” Perine in his session.

As Riddle explains at top of this show, draft analysts are split three ways on Perine’s prospects: the next big thing, just another guy, or a total bust. By the time Riddle—a former NFL defensive end and outside linebacker who posts his own draft work annually at—finishes presenting his portfolio of examples in this episode of the RSP Film Room, the narrative behind this split makes sense.

Perine was still on my remaining schedule of players in need of follow up study. Some analysts I know study a player in one long block of film watching. Due to the number of players I watch, and the desire to have some space between viewings, I generally watch no more than 2-3 games of a player at a time.

Most of the time, I’ll only watch a single game in a viewing session on that player. I’ll also purposely (and admittedly, accidentally) watch the same game I’ve watched months prior to calibrate my observations on a player. I did this accidentally with NC A&T RB Tarik Cohen two days ago and he earned the exact same scores as he did when I watched his Kent State game a few months ago.

Perine was the first player I studied to kick off my 2017 RSP research of the summer. It was my first week after leaving my university job and  was excited about studying him. I picked the big back because he caught my eye when he was a freshman.

I couldn’t have been more disappointed. The 2015 game I chose featured a sluggish runner who didn’t use his enormous power to the potential that was clearly there. When I watched a game from his 2016 season months later, it wasn’t better.

Riddle’s analysis of Perine begins during this sluggish and uninspired era of the Sooners’ career and works chronologically back to his freshman year. As we watch Perine get younger, his performances get better.

He’s quicker, his long speed is worth touting for his size, and, as Riddle points out, Perine is demoralizing good college defenders with his power. You’ll see this with your own eyes the deeper we get into Perine’s portfolio of work.

After this session, I studied more of Perine’s early tape and I agree with Riddle’s assessment: Perine appears lighter as a freshman than he did as a junior. It might be by design (he was used as a lot as a fullback for Joe Mixon) or genetically (he’s a freak of nature in the weight room and as he’s filled out, it might be easier for him to be a heavier set guy), but weight loss could be a significant help for Perine’s future as an NFL runner.

Although Le’Veon Bell had elite quickness and agility at 230-240 pounds (as I wrote in that year’s RSP, his quickness-burst-agility was in the same range as Jahvid Best and Ahmad Bradshaw), the weight loss made him even quicker. Perine’s tape reveals a quicker back at a lighter weight who still retains awesome power and good agility.

If weight loss is the potential path for Perine’s return to his freshman look, he could be as productive as any of the backs in this rich class. If his junior year is indicative of what we’ll see in the NFL long-term, his role will be far more confined.

It makes the OU career rushing leader one of the most fun and fascinating players I’ll be monitoring for the next 2-3 years.

For analysis of skill players in the 2017 draft class, pre-order a login for the 2017 Rookie Scouting Portfolio – for April 1 download  Better yet, if you’re a fantasy owner the Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2012 – 2017 RSPs at no additional charge. Best, yet, 10 percent of every sale is donated to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse. You can purchase past editions of Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio for just $9.95 apiece.

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