Deep describes both the talent pool and the skill set of the 2015 NFL Draft class of wide receivers. Kevin White wowed the Combine, Amari Cooper won the awards, DeVante Parker shines on tape, and Jaelen Strong may fall because of injury. Central Florida WR Breshad Perriman has an NFL pedigree and is the fastest of them all.
Breshad Perriman rounds out the top-tier of wide receiver prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft class. With impressive size and elite speed, the University of Central Florida prospect is a prototype NFL receiver. He only started four games as a freshman, but 26 receptions for 338 yards and three touchdowns earned him a spot on the Conference USA All-Freshman team. The next season he caught 39 passes for 811 yards and four touchdowns, including a 91-yard catch-and-run against Akron, the longest play from scrimmage in UCF history.
Perriman vastly improved his numbers in 2014’s junior campaign, bringing in 50 passes for 1,044 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 20.9 yards per reception. He finished strong, catching a touchdown in each of UCF’s final seven games. In the St. Petersburg Bowl he caught a season-high nine passes against North Carolina State. For his efforts, Perriman was named to the All-American Conference First-Team.
Perriman comes from an NFL family. His father Brett Perriman was a standout receiver for the Miami Hurricanes and was drafted in the second round by the New Orleans Saints. After starting his career slowly, Brett found a home in Detroit and played a 10 seasons in the NFL.
Tale of the Tape
Standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing 212 pounds, Perriman fits the description of an archetype NFL wide receiver on paper. The receiver was held out of the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine due to a minor injury, but turned heads at Central Florida’s Pro Day. He posted official 40-yard dash times of 4.24 and 4.27 seconds at his pro day. Both times would have been tops at the Combine among wide receivers. He added a 36.5 inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-7 inch broad jump to his impressive times in the 40.
What He Does Well
With top-level speed and explosiveness, it should be no surprise that Perriman is a threat in the vertical passing game. In 2014 he displayed both the ability to beat teams deep on a variety of routes, as well as a knack for the timely big play. On this first play, he runs a post route against East Carolina’s defense, running Cover 1:
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Perriman displays both explosiveness and ball-tracking ability to haul in this pass. He has steps on his defender but a late throw allows the defensive back to contest the play. But, Perriman out-leaps the defender to attack the football, doing an excellent job of high-pointing the pass and winning the football in the air.
This next play is the final snap from UCF’s game against the Pirates. The Knights align Perriman in the middle of trips formation on the left, and attempt a Hail Mary:
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The receiver tracks the flight of the throw and beats three Pirates defenders to secure the game-winning touchdown as time expires. While the defenders misplay the throw, Perriman does a solid job of working to the football and catching the ball at its highest point to steal the win for the Knights.
On this next play from the season-opener in Dublin, he runs a deep post against Penn State’s Cover 1 defense:
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Another throw contested at the catch point, and another time Perriman beats the defender to the football for a reception.
Adjustment to the Football
Perriman also adjusts very well to the football in flight, on deep balls as well as on short and intermediate routes. Take this play, also from the East Carolina game. Perriman is split wide to the right and runs an intermediate out route:
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The throw from his quarterback is behind him, but Perriman does a tremendous job of stopping his route, controlling his body, and arching back to snare the football. One flaw on this play ‒ that we will address ‒ is that he rounds off the route on his break.
This play against NCSU is another example of adjusting to the flight of the ball on a short route. Perriman runs a post route on this play, and the pass is both low and behind him:
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Once more, Perriman is able to decelerate and get his hands on the football, cradling the pass to his body with his hands. One slight nitpick on this play can be seen on the third replay – Perriman flinches ever-so-slightly before the snap. This could result in a penalty or indicate to the defense the snap count, resulting in a big play for the other side.
Awareness and Recognition
Perriman displays good awareness and blitz recognition for a wide receiver. Many times in 2014 he spotted edge blitzes pre-snap and adjusted his route accordingly. On this first play, from the St. Petersburg Bowl, Perriman is split wide to the left and recognizes the double-edge blitz prior to the snap:
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You can see the receiver pointing out the two impending blitzers to his quarterback before the play begins. At the snap the receiver runs a quick slant route into the area vacated by the dual blitz. However, a high throw results in an incompletion.
The next play is also from the contest against the Wolfpack. Perriman is split wide to the left and recognizes the corner blitz before the snap:
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In response to the blitz Perriman cuts his route short and settles down on a curl in the spot vacated by the blitzing CB. He snares a high throw and nearly gets the first down by gaining yardage after the catch.
One more example is this play from the season-opener against the Nittany Lions. Prior to the snap Perriman notices the corner blitz and as a result cuts his route short:
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While he is not the target on this play, Perriman throws a block that releases his teammate on for a decent gain and a fresh set of downs.
Refinement v. Press/Physical Corners
When facing press-man or catch-man Perriman almost always uses his speed to get an outside release. Most of the time it works, but if a defender gets his hands on him, he is too often re-routed and forced off his spot. The receiver needs to be stronger against press coverage to win the battle at the line of scrimmage.
Additionally, he needs to develop another move or two to evade the press, as he cannot rely on pure speed on each snap. Since he will face increased press coverage in the NFL, this is something he will definitely need to improve upon as he transitions to the professional game.
This first play, from the Penn State game, is an example of how he typically beats press coverage:
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He is split wide to the right, and the cornerback is in press-man alignment across the line of scrimmage. At the snap Perriman uses a quick stutter-step to get the CB on his heels, and then bursts to the outside to beat the defender with speed.
Now, let’s look at when Perriman failed to beat the press. This first play is from the ECU game, and the receiver is split wide to the left. The cornerback is in catch-man alignment, approximately eight yards off the line of scrimmage, and the defense runs Cover 1 on this play. Perriman attempts a vertical route, and when he reaches the eight-yard mark on his route (the catch-point for the CB) he tries to beat the cornerback using his speed to the outside. But the defender is able to jam him:
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Once the defender initiates contact, he is able to ride Perriman toward the sideline. The receiver fails to disengage from the defender, and is forced out of bounds. While Perriman attempts to recover to the pass and makes a solid effort to the football, he is out of position he cannot make a play on the ball.
On this next play, Perriman tries a vertical route against the Nittany Lions:
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Perriman is split wide to the right, and his defender is just across the line of scrimmage in press-man. At the snap the receiver uses multiple stutter-step moves to try and pressure the cornerback into turning his hips early, but the defender does a good job of maintaining his positioning and leverage. Perriman then cuts to the outside to try and beat the defender, but the cornerback gets a his hands on him. The receiver cannot break the jam, and the cornerback gets inside leverage on Perriman’s vertical route and breaks up the pass.
The last example is this play from Central Florida’s meeting with the Missouri Tigers. Perriman is split wide to the left, and the defensive back is lined up in catch-man:
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Just prior to the snap, the defensive back adjusts his alignment towards the line of scrimmage, closing to five yards off the receiver. As the play begins, Perriman tries his move to the outside but the defender gets the jam, stopping Perriman in his tracks.
Perriman also has a habit of rounding off routes. He is often unable to gain separation from defenders because of his bad habit: rounding off cuts. Here is one example, from a play previously discussed. He runs an out route, and makes his cut at the 25-yard line:
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Perriman makes the cut at the proper spot, but drifts up the field – almost to the 21-yard line – on his break. This drifting nearly erases any separation between him and the defender.
Again, while a slightly different route compare Perriman’s out cut with the one executed by Amari Cooper:
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Where Cooper increases the separation on his cut, Perriman decreases his.
Another example from the St. Petersburg Bowl, this time a corner route:
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The receiver is split wide to the left and runs a corner route, again rounding off the break and drifting upfield. This erases any separation with the defender, and the pass falls incomplete.
Another knock on Perriman is that he sometimes drops catchable passes. Here are two examples. The first is from the game against ECU. Perriman blows by his defender using his speed move to the outside, but drops a perfectly thrown pass:
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Coaches hate seeing drops like this, especially on third down. This next play is another third-down drop:
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Perriman runs a quick slant route, but cannot secure the throw and drops the potential conversion.
Donte’ Stallworth – Both players are quick and possess elite speed at the wide receiver position. Like Stallworth Perriman can be an immediate threat in the vertical passing game while needing to develop his skills against press-man coverage.
Because of his tremendous speed, Perriman is likely a first-round selection. Because of the flaws in his game, specifically his inconsistency against the press and catching the football, I have a late-first/early-second round grade on him. He is the fifth-best wide receiver in this class, and that alone is likely enough to hear his name called on the draft’s opening night.
Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.
Mark Schofield knows play action, the free release, spectacular plays and how to throw on Cover 2, Cover 3 and Cover 6.