<
>

Redskins RB Samaje Perine leads late-round picks who can make impact in NFC East

Samaje Perine averaged 6.0 yards per carry and scored 49 touchdowns in his career at Oklahoma. Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

ESPN's NFC East reporters weigh in on which player picked in Rounds 4-7 will have the biggest impact in the division. Each team’s draft class is below the reporter’s analysis.

Todd Archer, Dallas Cowboys reporter: Washington’s fourth-round pick, Samaje Perine, could have a chance to start from the opening week, which is likely to put himself ahead of anybody else picked in Rounds 4-7 in the division. Rob Kelley wore down as last season went along. Perine is a physical back who should mesh well with Bill Callahan’s running game. One name to keep an eye on is Cowboys safety Xavier Woods. They traded to get him with the 191st pick and he was among the top 70 players on their board. He could earn a starting role depending on how quickly he can transition.

John Keim, Washington Redskins reporter: Redskins fourth-round pick Samaje Perine. He’ll immediately challenge Rob Kelley for the starting running back job thanks to his powerful running style. Perine averaged 6.0 yards per carry at Oklahoma and scored 49 touchdowns. The Redskins like Kelley, but clearly sought an upgrade at running back -- they were interested in the top three backs as well. Kelley and the run game slowed in the final six games; he averaged 3.2 yards per carry during that stretch. It’s possible that Perine and Kelley split duties, but the former should provide early help in short-yardage and goal-line situations if nothing else. That was one of Perine’s strengths in college. If he shows he can handle pass protection, Perine could see a lot of early playing time.

Tim McManus, Philadelphia Eagles reporter: Eagles running back Donnel Pumphrey -- the team’s fourth-round pick out of San Diego State -- is the all-time leading rusher in FBS and has a chance to become a playmaker at this level. His size (5-foot-8, 176 pounds) will likely limit his role in the NFL, however. Perine (5-10, 233 pounds), meanwhile, has the tools to be an effective back in just about any situation. A one-cut, punishing runner, the Oklahoma back could be especially effective near the goal line.

Jordan Raanan, New York Giants reporter: The easiest position to make an immediate impact is running back. The Giants (Wayne Gallman), Eagles (Donnell Pumphrey) and Redskins (Samaje Perine) all took fourth-round running backs. They could all be factors in 2017, but Pumphrey has the path of least resistance as of right now and is one of my favorite players in the draft. The all-time leading rusher in FBS history is in a backfield with Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood, and can contribute as a returner. Pumphrey will be a productive player, beginning as a rookie.