Pretty much guaranteed to be one of any Knights fan's favorite recent players, early NFL draft entrant Breshad Perriman is a lock to be the first UCF Knight drafted this year.
Let's put this out front: Perriman cemented his place as a UCF hero with his 51 yard touchdown catch on "O Holy Knight" to beat ECU and win a share of the AAC title:
(Never get tired of finding reasons to squeezing that highlight into posts). Of course, that play is probably more about the ECU players being terribly out of position than Perriman being spectacular. But his statistics this year speak for themselves. Perriman led the Knights in every receiving category: receptions (50), yards (1044), yards per catch (20.9), and touchdowns (9).
He clearly stood out among a Knights receiving corps with other talented players. And it wasn't even really close - the next leading receiver was Josh Reese with 39 receptions for 552 yards and 6 touchdowns. In fact, Perriman was the first UCF receiver with at least 1,000 yards in a season since Mike Sims-Walker in 2006 (who went on to his own NFL career with the Jacksonville Jaguars).
Perriman was also a critical piece of the Knights 2013 Fiesta Bowl winning campaign (39 receptions, 811 yards, 4 touchdowns). And he contributed as Freshman during UCF's final season in Conference USA (26 receptions, 388 yards, 3 touchdowns). His UCF career was filled with highlights -
Not so bad for a two star recruit, eh?
There's a lot that the NFL analysts like about Perriman. The stats obviously show that he can play. And he's a good size at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds. As you'll see mentioned in every draft preview article about Perriman, he's the son of former NFL wide receiver Brett Perriman (best known for his time with the Detroit Lions). So for what it's worth, he gets to check off the 'NFL lineage' box. Mel Kiper is high on Breshad Perriman, and describes him as "a guy who can both stretch defenses vertically and also make plays over the middle and in traffic." Pre-combine, Kiper projected him at number 15 to the 49ers. Then Kiper saw him going to Seattle. Now, trades have made the landscape more uncertain.
NFL Network Analyst Mike Maycock had this to say:
I put the Perriman tape on about three weeks ago and almost fell over. [inaudible] People tell me that he doesn't have good hands and boy do I disagree with that even though he's got drops than he should. So there's kind of a way to interpret that, a wide receiver that has too many drops should have bad hands, right? Well, I look at his hands and say he makes acrobatic catches, he makes high point catches, he makes contested catches, however every once in a while he drops an easy ball. But I think he's a natural hands catcher. I think he's got height and weight, I think he runs good routes...To me, he looks like a first round wide receiver.
You’ll hear a lot about this supposed drop problem that Maycock refers to. We here at UD mentioned it in our NFL Combine 2015: The Underdogs preview. Pro Football Focus tags him with a drop rate of 13% last season. I tend to view this criticism as overblown. While I’ll agree that Perriman has a had more drops than you want to see, at least some of this was due to QB Justin Holman’s lack of touch on passes – every ball was thrown like it needed to go through a brick wall. It didn’t do Perriman any favors.
Unfortunately for Perriman, he missed the combine with a hamstring injury. It’s too bad because he could have benefited with a strong performance given the concerns some have articulated about his drops. We’ll how he does working out at UCF on March 25. It ought to be illuminating and may perhaps establish him as a first round pick in the eyes of NFL scouts. Having watched him closely for three years, I'm inclined to think that he has the talent to be drafted that early -- we will see how teams' needs stack up.