The Florida Gators will miss the magic which running back Lamical Perine provided at times throughout his collegiate career. As one of their most valuable pieces and safety blankets for whichever quarterback was suited up, Perine will now hope to provide some sort of stability for a front-loaded New York Jets backfield in the NFL.
Only a few weeks ago now, Perine was selected by the New York Jets with the 120th overall selection in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. While many felt as though it was surprising the Jets, with high-paid running back Le'Veon Bell in the fold, would take a running back at all, it makes sense when you pull back the curtain a bit.
For the Gators, Perine accumulated 2,485 rushing yards on 493 carries (5.0 yards-per-carry), and 22 rushing touchdowns, to go along with 72 receptions for 674 yards, and eight touchdowns receiving. Truly a versatile weapon, Perine made the lives of every quarterback he played for easier.
While his role with the Jets will not be as extensive, what he brings to the table is all the same. A back that can be a true three-down handcuff for their prized running back in Bell, able to help bring stability to a backfield that has struggled mightily for years.
Jets head coach Adam Gase reiterated during his post-draft press conference that while it may not be a "great duo" yet, what he provides to the Jets is exactly the type of back they are looking for.
“It’s hard to anticipate that right now considering everything’s on paper, and we haven’t seen anybody practice,” said Gase when asked about Perine's role. “But I will say this: We all like his skill set. He’s one of those guys that’s able to do all three phases that you look for a running back to do – be able to run the football, be able to be involved in the passing game, be able to protect. And I think he can do all three of those things.
“I think we are getting a guy, too, that is very hungry, that is going to be playing with a chip on his shoulder. He obviously was surprised that he lasted to the pick he lasted, and anytime that we can get guys that are coming in like that, that’s a good thing for us.”
Perine is used to playing with a chip on his shoulder. He has battled criticism for his speed in the past and had to overcome the stigma that he wasn't a great receiving back during his senior season. In 2019, Perine caught 40 out of his total 72 receptions over the course of his collegiate career, for 262 yards, and five touchdowns - proving he was more than capable and likely raising his draft stock as a result.
For Perine, this is a perfect situation for the young tailback to be in. Not only will he be able to learn from a very similar back in Bell, but he will also learn from one of the best running backs of all time in Frank Gore - signed only recently.
Gore has dealt with young running backs over the past few years, and recently ushered in former FAU running back, now Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary who has quickly become the Bills' bell-cow, and will remain so heading into the 2020 season.
A scheme which allows Perine to use his patience - as he was wont to do in the past with the Gators -, should allow him to have success early on in his career, and his ability to be a pass-protector and pass-catcher will extend that even further. Now with the Jets, Perine fits like a glove.