As we try to learn more about the players the New York Giants selected in the 2016 NFL Draft who better to turn to for information than the people who have watched these players the most? Fortunately, SB Nation has a cadre of top-notch college blogs. So, for the low-down on UCLA running back Paul Perkins, selected in the fifth round, we asked our friends at Bruins Nation for their input.
Joe Piechowski, who, as luck would have it, is a transplanted Clifton, N.J. native who grew up rooting for the Giants, answered Big Blue View's call (yes, note the subtle Matrix reference). Here are Joe's answers to five questions about Perkins.
Ed: I heard the fact that the Giants were able to get him in the fifth round described as "ludicrous value," meant, of course, as a good thing. Would you agree with that? Did you expect him to be selected earlier?
Joe: I absolutely consider him a "ludicrous value". Paul Perkins is an "under the radar" kind of guy. He shows up and gets the job done and done well. He was the Pac-12 leading rusher in 2014, but, if you asked most people who follow the Pac-12, they might have been surprised that Perkins was the top rusher in the conference in 2014 and not Devontae Booker of Utah or Buck Allen of Southern Cal. He followed that up in 2015 in which he rushed for another 1343 yards averaging 103 YPG.
He finished up a three-year career at UCLA with 3,560 career yards which is third all-time at UCLA. He would have only needed about 1,000 yards to become the all-time leading rusher at UCLA. In the Bruins Nation Draft Profile on Perkins, he was compared to the more famous running backs to go to UCLA -- guys like Jonathan Franklin, Gaston Green, Maurice Jones-Drew, DeShaun Foster, Wendell Tyler, and Freeman McNeil. Does Paul Perkins belong mentioned in that group? Absolutely.
So, the Giants got an absolute steal getting him in the fifth round.
Ed: I know this is an "open-ended" question, but when you think of Perkins' career at UCLA, what comes to mind? A specific game? A specific play? Something more general?
Joe: What comes to mind is the entirety of the work. As I wrote above, he's totally an "under the radar" kind of guy. But, there is ABSOLUTELY no doubt in my mind that Perk should have a great career with the Giants. He fills a hole that the Giants have had probably since Tiki Barber retired. But, I would go even further to say that, as long as he stays healthy (and that's never a guarantee in the NFL -- just ask former Bruin and Green Bay Packer Jonathan Franklin), I wouldn't be surprised if he goes down as one of the best backs in Giants history since the AFL merger for sure and possibly ever. But, he's going to go about it quietly because he's not flashy and loud about it.
Ed: We can read all the scouting reports to learn about his playing ability. What kind of person are the Giants getting?
Joe: Giant fans are going to love Perk! Why? Because he's a lunch pail guy like so many Giant fans. He shows up, does his job and doesn't have to be flashy about it. He's not someone the team will need to worry about character-wise. Plus, his dad and his uncle both played in the NFL. His dad Bruce played two seasons with the Colts and Bucs. His uncle Don played eight seasons with the Cowboys.
4. In your mind, what is the one thing that might hold Perkins back from having an outstanding NFL career?
Joe: What might hold back his career? I think the only thing that might hold back his NFL career are the unpredictable things like if he gets hurt at some point. That isn't to say he isn't durable. You don't lead the Pac-12 in rushing as a sophomore by not being durable. I'm talking about the freak injuries that you can never predict. Something like tearing an ACL or taking a QB sack on a Monday Night from Lawrence Taylor and breaking your leg or a head/neck injury from getting hit the wrong way. Those types of injuries.
But, Giant fans will remember the kind of career Freeman McNeil had for the Jets during the '80s. They had him and Wesley Walker and little else.
I expect that kind of career for Perkins, but better because the Giants have more talent than any Jet team ever. (Can you tell I grew up a Giants' fan in North Jersey yet?)
Ed: Here's a comparison for you, and maybe it's a setup but I'll ask anyway. The Dallas Cowboys took Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall. The Giants took Perkins in the fifth round. I'm not asking if the Giants got the better player. But, did they get a better value?
Joe: I think that Paul Perkins may have been the second best back in this year's draft behind Ezekiel Elliott. But the Cowboys took Elliott with the fourth pick overall while the Giants got the second best RB in the 5th round. Is Elliott going to be worth all that extra money Jerry Jones is going to give to him? I doubt it. Perkins was a much better value in the 5th round than Ezekiel was in the first.
As CBS Sports' Pete Prisco put it, "I wouldn't take a running back in the first round -- even Ezekiel Elliott. Why? I can get a guy like Perkins in the second or third. Perkins was a productive, elusive player in a good conference. He seemed to glide when he ran. I think he's a perfect NFL back."
Considering that Perkins was still available in the fifth round and not the second or the third, the Giants got a much better value than the Cowboys.