We’ve talked a lot about running backs on this site, but the focus has mainly been on those “top guys.” What if the Bucs’ brass view other positions as more important?
Jason Licht recently said the incumbent starter Ronald Jones “hasn’t even scratched the surface” of his potential, so the Buccaneers may very well wait on running back while opting to address offensive line, wide receiver, safety, and/or defensive line ahead of the running back position.
If that is indeed the case, players like J.K. Dobbins, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, D’Andre Swift, Cam Akers, and Jonathan Taylor will be lone gone. So what then? Well, a Florida Gator might be just the answer.
Lamical Perine’s Collegiate Career
Lamical Perine started sporadically in his first few years at Florida before starting all thirteen games as a Senior in 2019. Perine finished his college career with 493 rushes for 2,485 yards, 22 touchdowns, and a 5.0 yards per carry average. From his Sophomore through Senior seasons, Perine had 136, 134, and 132 carries respectfully with career highs in yards at 826 (Junior year), touchdowns with eight (Sophomore year) and yards per carry with 6.2 (Junior year).
On the flip side, his receiving ability was on full display his Senior season, gaining career highs across the board with 40 receptions for 262 yards and five touchdowns.
Perine also dabbled in special teams as a Freshman, returning four kicks with a 21.5 yards per return average.
In his Senior season, Perine finished eleventh in the SEC in touchdowns from scrimmage with eleven as he was among the team’s top receivers, adding a new threat to his game.
Perine certainly helped his cause in the Senior Bowl, carrying the ball seven times for 42 yards while adding two receptions for 17 yards and the first touchdown of the game. Buzz around Perine really started picking up steam following that performance that helped expose Perine to a number of people that hadn’t seen him play much - if at all - in 2019.
First and foremost, his pass catching. Bringing in a running back that is not only a grinder, but is as effective as Perine in the passing game is a huge boost. Perine rarely drops passes heading his way and is really solid at gaining yards after the catch. Having a reliable target to utilize as that quick outlet option for Tom Brady adds a level to the Bucs’ offense they’ve been lacking the past few years.
On top of that, he certainly isn’t afraid of contact. He’s got no issues bowling over a linebacker or safety that gets in his way once he gets a head of steam. His vision and quick decision making help him make up for lack of speed and quickness as he is decisive and committed to gaining as much yardage as possible each time he touches the ball.
He stays balanced after contact and doesn’t waste any time getting to line of scrimmage. There’s no “dancing around” looking for a hole. He hits his spot as quickly and as powerfully as he possibly can. He’s going to fall forward to gain that extra yard or two and isn’t pushed backwards easily. Could come in very handy inside the five yard line, something else the Bucs have struggled with in recent years.
No one is going to say he is a shifty or elusive back. That’s not necessarily a con so much as it just isn’t part of his game.
Speed and quickness just isn’t there. Perine ran a 4.62 40-yard dash so he isn’t going to be breaking away on 75-yard runs against the speed in the NFL. He’s not going to juke anyone out of their cleats or shake defenders in the open field. Again, that’s not his game. Perine is a downhill runner with power.
Though he possesses some blocking ability, there is a lot of work to be done there before a team can fully trust him to pick up blitzes and protect their quarterback.
Though his power and ability to fall forward for yards is a pro, he tends to initiate unnecessary contact to rely on that power rather than trying to continue towards open field for larger gains.
Perine possesses very little initial burst in his runs and his speed is just his speed from the moment he gets the ball. Unlike some of his other shortcomings, this one isn’t going to be able to be coached up or improved. Could hinder his ability at the NFL level.
Why The Buccaneers Need Lamical Perine
If the emphasis is indeed placed on other positions first, Perine could be a really solid consolation prize on day three of the draft. Projected as a fourth round choice, Perine’s pass-catching ability makes him very enticing for the Buccaneers.
Another enticing part of his game is the power aspect. As mentioned before, the Buccaneers have struggled punching the ball into the end zone inside the five yard line and at times have had issues picking up those short yardage first downs. Perine’s finishing ability to push forward for that extra one or two yards will help the Bucs.
Perine is a good complimentary back to Ronald Jones if the Buccaneers are indeed sold on Jones’ upside and ability to be the primary guy. Whereas a guy like Dobbins, Edwards-Helaire, or Swift could quickly usurp the top spot from Jones, a player like Perine shows Jones the Bucs’ commitment to him as their feature back moving forward while also getting him some help.
Finally, his raw ability makes him someone who can help immediately while his room for growth and development could lead him to be pointed out as a draft steal a few years down the road. In round four and beyond, that’s the kind of player you’re looking for. Depth, rotational, and upside for years down the line.
Should It Happen?
I’m personally of the mindset that I want the Buccaneers to take one of those top four or five running backs in round two. That said, I can absolutely see them going this route if the draft falls to them in a certain way. If they go offensive tackle on day one, then have a safety like Ashtyn Davis or even Grant Delpit somehow slip to them in round two, it may be too hard to pass up. Or they could double dip at offensive line if a guy like Austin Jackson or Ezra Cleveland fall to them in round two. Unlikely, but not completely out of the question.
Perine would add a layer to the offense that they don’t quite have yet with RoJo, making him a great complimentary back. Ultimately, depending on how this draft falls, I wouldn’t be the least bit upset if Perine ended up in red and pewter.
But what do you think? Let us know in the comments below and by voting in our poll.
How Do You Feel About Lamical Perine For The Buccaneers In The 2020 NFL Draft?
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