Wide-Out(s) to Watch: Perriman

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By Jacob Bourgeois; Twitter: @JacobBourgieFFB 

Just wrapped up a series on Backfield Battles (here: Jets, Pats, Cardinals, and Buffalo), and figured it was time to address the murkiest pass-catching situations.  Wide receivers by sheer quantity are less sexy than Running Backs, but I think this series will pay dividends to those who, like me, favor a “Robust RB” strategy.

First up is Detroit as they boast zero WR1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, or 6s.  Because of the depth with which I’d like to go, I’ll focus on one player at a time in order of interest to me.  Today: Breshad Perriman. 

Stats are from www.espn.com; https://www.sports-reference.com/; and www.pro-football-reference.com.

The Depth Chart

The Wide Receiver

Breshad Perriman ECR WR 67, ADP WR 75 / Overall 240

Age: 27, 6’2” 210 lbs., 4.26s 40-time!

Drafted: 1st Round, 26th Pick (2015)

PFF: 63.6 (72.8 2019, 70.9 2018)

Coming out of college Perriman was an unpolished, underdeveloped, size-speed specimen who put up one solid year as a 21-year-old Junior at UCF.  He lost his rookie season in Baltimore to a PCL tear which required surgery and got off to a slow start in 2016 after he reaggravated it, requiring a clean-up procedure in the preseason.  Active for all 16 games that year, he earned three starts and caught 33 balls on 66 targets with an average depth of 15 YPR.  Not bad if you consider what he fought through and his lack of college development. 

In 2017, he again missed the entire preseason due to a hamstring strain (common among speedy guys) and missed some time during the season with a concussion.  It was a let down after a promising 2016, managing only 10 catches on 35 targets and earned him a spot on the bench and subsequent release in the upcoming offseason.

In 2018, he was signed to a one-year “prove-it” deal by Cleveland in Baker Mayfield’s rookie season (featured on Hard Knocks) and had his best statistical year on very limited usage (25 targets), but remained behind Jarvis Landry, their rookie Antonio Callaway, and Rashard Higgins.  With Cleveland’s plans set on acquiring OBJ, Perriman walked in free agency. 

In 2019, the now journeyman was picked up by Tampa Bay to play behind Evans and Godwin with Winston throwing the ball all over the yard in Bruce Arian’s famous return tour.  Scotty Miller and Justin Watson shared slot snaps that year with Godwin on rotation, Perriman being used outside.  Both Evans and Godwin missed the final five games paving the way for Perriman’s long-awaited break-out. 

In 2020, he was subject of yet another release despite his late season production and signed with the NY Jets for final season of both Adam Gase and Sam Darnold.  This was a Covid-shortened, Gase-derailed endeavor.  But he also lost time due to an Ankle sprain and managed to pick up his third career concussion.  Despite these challenges he saw 60 targets (38 catchable targets) and snagged 30 of them for 13.29 Yards per Catchable Target (explained here: YpCT) putting him in the Gabe Davis, Mike Williams realm for that efficiency statistic.

Summary

One could argue Perriman has never had a chance to really develop his elite measurables because of frequent injuries and scene-changes.  This lack of development has kept him away from the primary target designation, where he’s obviously not getting it all right in practice on a weekly basis.  One can conclude his peak is behind him and top talent will continue to take snaps away from him OR the best is yet to come where the stars will align and he’ll be forced into heavy usage, given a full preseason to learn a system, and have little to no competition for the outside receiver role (sounds a lot like Detroit).  The tools are there if he can build it.   

The opinions on Perriman, especially because he has disappointed those who rode him from the beginning, are notably varied – but I’m higher on him than the field.  Given his size/speed combo and seemingly assured spot in the rotation he should be one of Goff’s top targets. Goff has average 4500 yards (16 games) in the last four years and I see that as his floor in Detroit given the massive downgrade in defense compared to his time in LA. If Perriman can manage a 20% target share he has a chance to hit that 1000 yard mark and his size lends to nice usage in the red zone as well. A fine target late in drafts as Detroit will be playing catch-up in just about every 4th quarter this year.

Cover Photo: Junfu Han, Imagn Content Services, LLC, https://www.si.com/nfl/lions/news/lions-breshad-perriman-five-keys-to-success