Samaje Perine first made headlines as a freshman at Oklahoma when he ran all over Kansas to the tune of 427 yards and five touchdowns. The stat line was absurd, and it was a big part of a 1,700-yard season in 2014.
While that game was certainly the highlight, what stands out most about Perine's three years with the Sooners is his strength. Perine has high-end speed, but he likes to lower his shoulder and pound the football.
After the Redskins selected Perine in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, that power has his new head coach excited.
"We couldn’t pass up on Samaje. We were happy to get him, man," Gruden said after the draft. "We really enjoyed his interview, his toughness, watching him on tape. You feel his presence when he runs the football. He’s a hard guy to get down, and if you do get him down, you’re going to get up holding your shoulder or something because he’s going to hit you."
Washington struggled in the red zone in 2016, and particularly struggled to run the ball at the goal line. Perine could help in those areas immediately.
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At Oklahoma he recorded 49 touchdowns in three seasons, and at the NFL Combine he ranked as the strongest running back in 2017 class. He bench pressed 225 pounds 30 times, far and away the best strength performance of the backs in Indianapolis.
Asked after the draft to describe his game, Perine gave an answer that Washington brass would love.
"I’d much prefer to go through you than around you."
Make no mistake, Robert Kelley and Chris Thompson will still contribute plenty to the Redskins run game. Kelley has a knack for making defenders miss and Gruden has repeatedly stated his belief in "Fat Rob." The organization also paid up to keep Thompson, who was a restricted free agent this offseason.
Perine will get opportunities though. His talent and strength will command them. And the head coach sure seems to like his power.
"He's a physical runner, without a doubt. Nobody can argue that point."
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