New name for Bucs' RB search: Oklahoma's Samaje Perine
We've written about how extensively the Bucs have invested time in potential second- or third-round running backs in this draft, and there's another name to add to the list: Oklahoma's Samaje Perine, who was on Pro Football Talk Live on Thursday and said the Bucs have shown the most interest of any NFL team in him.
Perine -- whose interest from the Bucs had not been previously reported -- said the Bucs not only worked him out on campus at Oklahoma but flew him to Tampa for a visit and time with the Tampa Bay coaching staff. The Bucs also brought in another Sooners running back in Joe Mixon as well.
Perine set the NCAA single-game rushing record in 2014 with a 427-yard, five-touchdown game against Kansas, and he topped 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons at Oklahoma, finishing with 49 touchdowns. His total yards and yards per carry both went down each year, but when he got the chance last season, he played well, rushing for 239 yards in a late-season win against Oklahoma State.
Perine is a big back -- 5-foot-11 and 233 pounds -- and the pro comparison on his NFL draft page is curiously Michael Turner, who was Dirk Koetter's primary running back in 2012, his first season in Atlanta as offensive coordinator to Mike Smith. The Falcons went 13-3 that year and lost a close game in the NFC Championship, with Turner paired with current Bucs running back Jacquizz Rodgers.
So add Perine to the list of running backs the Bucs could turn to next Friday if they don't use their top pick on a runner like FSU's Dalvin Cook -- he joins Mixon, Texas' D'Onta Foreman, USF's Marlon Mack and Toledo's Kareem Hunt.