NY Jets: La’Mical Perine could be the team’s next Bilal Powell
By Justin Fried
The NY Jets selected Florida running back La’Mical Perine in the fourth round and the rookie could become the team’s next version of long-tenured tailback Bilal Powell.
The NY Jets added a host of new young offensive talent during the 2020 NFL Draft and the hope is that each of those players will have long, fruitful careers with the team. But if you’re betting on any of them accomplishing that goal, perhaps it should be fourth-round pick La’Mical Perine.
Eyeing a ready-made contributor in 2020 and possibly a future backfield leader, the Jets selected Perine with the first pick of Day 3 this past Saturday. With Le’Veon Bell‘s future in New York uncertain, it seemed certain that the Jets would opt to draft a running back.
And Perine was the player they chose.
The Florida product is a well-rounded, versatile running back who doesn’t excel in one particular area. Rather his combination of physicality, versatility, and adequate breakaway speed makes him an ideal rotational back at the NFL level.
Perine may never become a true bell-cow running back, but his skill set seems to suggest that he will have a lengthy career in the NFL.
If that brief analysis of his game sounds familiar, maybe it’s because Jets fans have grown accustomed to a very similar player over the past decade — that player being long-tenured tailback Bilal Powell.
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No, Perine isn’t a spitting image of Powell. At 216 pounds, the 22-year-old is a bit larger and more physical than his veteran counterpart. And the older Powell is more shifty and elusive than his younger adversary.
But it wouldn’t be surprising to see them have very similar careers in the NFL.
Much like Powell, Perine is already an adept receiving threat hauling in 40 passes during his senior year at Florida. While not quite the blocker that Powell is, Perine shows a willingness to become better in pass protection and he’s never shied away from contact.
Neither running back ran a blazing 40-yard dash and they don’t have incredible speed in a vacuum. But get them in open space, and they’ll have the breakaway acceleration to outrun most of the defense.
Both Powell and Perine were parts of rotations in college and neither finished their careers with a ton of production. Perine never topped 850 yards in a season whereas Powell amazingly never topped 400.
Not to mention the fact that both players were fourth-round picks, Perine being selected just six picks before Powell in their respective draft classes.
And from a character perspective, it’s hard to go wrong there either. Perine was a senior captain of his team and he’s been described as “competing with an overachiever attitude.” If there ever was a way to describe Powell, that would be it.
It’s that very mentality that should allow Perine to be incredibly successful in the NFL despite his lackluster athletic traits. He isn’t the fastest nor the most elusive, but Perine runs with a purpose and outworks his opponents.
Bilal Powell has made a career out of doing just that.
The Jets would be wise to explore re-signing Powell for another season to not only provide added depth at the position, but to allow him to mentor a rookie who resembles him in many ways.
Powell is one of the most beloved Jets of the last decade, and the organization may have found his long-term replacement in the form of a like-minded overachiever.