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Breshad Perriman will need more than speed in NFL

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Leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, each day NFL Fantasy will profile a prospect who could make a splash in fantasy next season. Today's subject is former UCF wide receiver Breshad Perriman.

Perriman sent football Twitter into a frenzy on Wednesday when he ran a blistering 40-yard dash that NFL Media's Mike Mayock clocked at 4.25 seconds (other had it as low as 4.22). The former UCF Knight had been quietly climbing up draft boards prior to his pro day explosion, and now speculation and projections are running rampant around this talented, athletic prospect. But as we've learned through years and years of watching athletic specimens flame out in the NFL, players can't get by on raw talent alone. So does Perriman have what it takes to make it at the next level? I went to the tape to find out.

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Perriman's NFL.com draft profile

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Strengths


     » Blazing speed, creates separation
     » Big bodied and strong
     » NFL pedigree from father Brett Perriman
     » Shows (at times) ideal suddenness in routes

While he's not running at 4.25 speed in pads, Perriman's speed is evident as soon as you turn on the tape. He frequently was able to take the top off of defenses and beat defenders on the outside with his speed. He was also very adept at varying his speed to bait defensive backs and gain that much needed separation. Were it not for poor quarterback play resulting in constant underthrows, Perriman's 2014 output of 50 catches, 1,044 yards and nine touchdowns might have been even better. For what it's worth, Perriman averaged over 20 yards per reception last season, and was the only receiver who caught at least 40 passes to do so.

When he wants to, Perriman showed good precision and explosion coming out of the breaks in his routes, especially on slants and posts. That's where the "suddenness" I mentioned above comes into play. Also working in Perriman's favor is that his father, Brett Perriman, played for 10 years in the NFL, with his best season coming in 1995 when he notched 108 receptions and 1,488 receiving yards. Tacking an NFL pedigree onto Perriman's 6-foot-2, 219 pound frame is definitely something that catches scouts eyes.

Weaknesses


     » Poor overall route runner
     » Needs to improve tracking back to deep balls
     » Unreliable hands at times, numerous drops
     » Needs to improve other moves aside from speed

Despite that occasional suddenness, Perriman's route-running as a whole is not impressive. As NFL Media's Lance Zierlein notes in his profile, Perriman has a bad habit of rounding off routes and not making a convincing effort if he isn't the main target of the play. Given his natural speed, this is a dead give away for opposing defenders, and one thing pro cornerbacks will use to their advantage. Speaking of pro corners, they'll be able to disrupt plenty of Perriman's targets if he doesn't get better at a) winning contested catches and b) tracking back to deep balls. He has the talent and athleticism to do so, he just needs to put it all together and become more aggressive in fighting for the ball.

In a vacuum, drops are hard to rate as they don't necessarily mean a guy has bad hands or can't catch. But there were a number of times where Perriman simply didn't make clean catches, had to catch the ball twice, or ended up dropping it because of what I can only assume was a lack of focus. This is a cause for concern, but as NFL Media's Gil Brandt points out, plenty of coaches believe they can teach a player to catch. So although Perriman's hands might knock him down to the bottom of the first round or the early second round in the NFL Draft, some team will be willing to bet on his raw athleticism. Because while you can teach a guy to catch, as the saying goes you can't teach speed.

Ideal NFL fantasy fits


     » Carolina Panthers
     » Kansas City Chiefs
     » Philadelphia Eagles

There are plenty of teams with immediate needs at wide receiver, and my hope is that Perriman lands in a situation where he can ease his way into the NFL game. Carolina would be great, because with Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen already keeping defenses busy, Perriman could perfect his craft and offer a superb deep threat for Cam Newton. Kansas City could work as well, but given Alex Smith's limitations throwing the ball deep, Perriman would lose some fantasy value there. Lastly, I'd like to see Perriman in Chip Kelly's offense, as I feel he'd be able to find ways to get the most out of Perriman's abilities right away -- especially with the strong-armed Sam Bradford now under center.

Early fantasy draft projection

For my money, Perriman will be more of a project in his rookie year, and isn't likely to make a huge statistical impact out of the gate. However, with a little time and polish, he could turn into one heck of a receiver. He probably shouldn't be taken in redrafts (except for the deepest of leagues), and I'd see him as a second-round pick in dynasty formats, as long as you have the space on your bench to wait for him to develop and cash in on his raw physical gifts.

-- Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar

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