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Rookie Progress Report: Paul Perkins

Posted Jun 29, 2016

Giants.com's Dan Salomone takes an in-depth look at the 2016 rookie class following the offseason program:

Half a year has passed since rookies played in their last college game, and yet they’ve never been busier.

Over that time, the NFL’s incoming class prepared for the combine, participated in the combine, held Pro
Days, anxiously awaited the draft results, and reported for rookie minicamp before being thrown into the deep end with veterans during spring practices. Such is life for an athlete trying to make it to the professional level.

The rookies are now enjoying a much-needed break before reporting for training camp on July 28. So it's a good time to gauge their progress heading into summer.

Today’s rookie report is on running back Paul Perkins, the Giants’ fifth-round pick out of UCLA:

CATCHING THE GIANTS’ EYE

A team co-captain in 2015, Perkins climbed up to third on UCLA’s all-time rushing yards list (3,491) and fifth on the all-purpose yards list (4,236). He also became the school's all-time leading receiver at the running back position with 80 career catches.

>> READ: HIGH PRAISE FOR GIANTS DRAFT CLASS FROM THEIR COLLEGE COACHES

“He can run it, he can catch it, he can block,” general manager Jerry Reese said. “He’ll play on all of the core teams… solid football player. People say he doesn’t have home run speed, but I saw him on an 82-yard touchdown against Colorado. Really good, solid football player. I like him a lot. He’s a three-down player.”

DRAFT STEAL?

As pick No. 149, Perkins was the ninth running back taken in the 2016 NFL Draft. Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott was the only running back selected in the first round (No. 4 overall by Dallas) and Alabama’s Derrick Henry (No. 45 by Tennessee) was the only one drafted in the second round. The running backs started to fly off the board on Day 3 when nine were taken in the fourth and fifth rounds, including Perkins.

>> READ: PERKINS AND OWA HAVE CALIFORNIA CONNECTION

“It definitely was a deep draft (at running back),” said Marc Ross, the Giants’ vice president of player evaluation. “Maybe not at the top but the later rounds, and a lot of successful backs in the league have been later round picks and he just was there at the time. We felt comfortable taking a guy, the highest- rated guy at the time, we felt could help us.”

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

After the Giants struggled to find a consistent rushing attack in 2015, offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan liked the versatility that Perkins brought to rookie minicamp in early May. His ability to play all three downs will also help protect Eli Manning on the money downs.

“This is a guy who was a leader on his team, very bright,” Sullivan said. ”He is a three-down back possibility and here is someone that can have the good hands to catch the football out of the backfield. You talk about third down and it is really the mental aspect of it, being able to have the awareness of who you have to block to protect the quarterback, and he has that and he gets the tough yards.

“He has shown the ability off of his college tape to take the ball, hit the home run ball so to speak, so there is just some versatility that makes us very excited to see if he can be someone that can be not necessarily a situational guy but a guy that can be there for all three downs.”

FINISHING UP SCHOOL

While rookies were thrown into the deep end during organized team activities, Perkins had to sit out that portion of the offseason workout program to complete his academic requirements back at UCLA. However, he was able to stay connected to the team via practice tape on his tablet and phone calls with the coaches.

“I had an iPad with all the plays and a script with what they were doing each day,” Perkins said.  “And then (running backs) coach (Craig) Johnson would call me periodically throughout the week to see how I was doing - and coach (Ben) McAdoo, as well. I definitely wish I was here, but it definitely helped me more so than not having it and just watching.”

TIME TO PLAY CATCH-UP

Perkins jumped back in with the team during the three-day minicamp in mid-June and began to play catch-up. While he was able to watch tape, there’s no substitute for live reps. He’ll need more of those when training camp rolls around at the end of July.

>> READ: PAUL PERKINS PLAYS CATCH UP AT MINICAMP

“Paul has watched every practice,” McAdoo said. “We had a chance to catch up with him at night. There are some rules that you can communicate at night in watching the practice, being able to go through and look at the installs and study the book. Certainly, it is not as good as being here, but he has some catching up to do.”

“Obviously, if guys could just get it off of the film or off of the book, then I wouldn’t have a job,” Sullivan added. “So he needs to be out there and get those reps. And he’s a young man that we’re very excited about. (We’re) glad that he’s here, glad that he’s a member of the Giants. He just needs to get those reps, and it’ll be great to have him go full-speed ahead for us in training camp.”