In a 2021 NFL Draft edge class that lacks a true standout prospect at the top, Oklahoma edge rusher Ronnie Perkins is an explosive and intriguing playmaker. Can he overcome his off-field issues to become one of the first pass rushers taken when Roger Goodell opens the draft in April?
Ronnie Perkins NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Defensive End
- School: Oklahoma
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 247 pounds
Oklahoma edge rusher Ronnie Perkins began his NFL Draft journey at Lutheran High School. The St. Louis, Missouri native impressed early and often as a defensive tackle and tight end. As a sophomore in 2015, Perkins racked up 85 tackles and nine sacks. An explosive and strong defensive prospect, Perkins lived in the opposition backfield. His high school tape is littered with examples of him bursting into the backfield to take down opposing running backs.
Perkins’ play for Lutheran earned him a four-star rating from 247 Sports. As the 66th-ranked player nationally, and number one player in Missouri, it wasn’t long before collegiate offers came flooding through the door of the Perkins residence. They started small, with programs like Memphis, Miami (OH), and Bowling Green amongst the first to tempt Perkins to bring his talents to their teams.
Offers from college football giants like LSU, Georgia, and Texas A&M followed. However, nestled in amongst them, Perkins would find a home. The Oklahoma Sooners made an offer at the end of his junior season. Although other offers would come in, including from soon-to-be rivals Texas, Perkins signed his letter of intent following his senior season.
Perkins ended his high school career as the St. Louis Post Dispatch All-Metro Football Defensive Player of the Year.
Ronnie Perkins’ college career at Oklahoma
Ronnie Perkins would make an immediate impression as an Oklahoma edge rusher. Making his first start against Florida Atlantic as a true freshman, Perkins would secure his first tackle for loss in a four-tackle game. One week later against UCLA, Perkins recorded his first career sack. Further sacks would come against Baylor (two), West Virginia, and Texas in the Big 12 Championship.
Voted a 2018 Freshman All-American by ESPN, Perkins had arrived. There would be no let-up in 2019 as a sophomore.
Perkins exploded out the gate with a career-high single-game tackle total in the season opener against Houston. It was an all-around great performance with 7 tackles, including 2 tackles for loss and a sack. Career-high tackles for loss (4) and sacks (3) would follow later against a Baylor team that Perkins specialized in terrorizing throughout his Sooners career.
From the highs to the lows and back again for Ronnie Perkins
Perkins’ explosive performances propelled Oklahoma into the College Football Playoffs and earned him second-team All-Big 12 honors. Before the Peach Bowl matchup with LSU, however, Perkins season would abruptly end. Following a reported failed drug test related to marijuana, Perkins was suspended along with teammates Rhamondre Stevenson and Trejan Bridges.
Without their best defensive player, Oklahoma would lose to LSU. Furthermore, they would lose Perkins for the start of the 2020 season. Having served his suspension, Perkins returned for the final six games of the season in typically explosive style.
The Oklahoma edge rusher had a tackle for loss in every game. In a four-game stretch in the middle of his season, Perkins flashed his skills as a pass rusher logging at least half a sack, including two sacks in the Bedlam rivalry game with Oklahoma State.
After securing a tackle for loss in his final Oklahoma game against Florida, Ronnie Perkins announced his declaration for the 2021 NFL Draft. He leaves Norman with 32 tackles for loss and 16.5 career sacks. Despite his performances in 2020, Perkins wasn’t a part of an Oklahoma contingent at the 2021 Senior Bowl that included Creed Humphrey, Rhamondre Stevenson, Adrian Ealy, Tre Norwood, and Tre Brown.
Analyzing Ronnie Perkins’ NFL Draft Profile
One word epitomizes Ronnie Perkins’ football career and NFL Draft profile — explosion. Perkins is one of the most explosive players in the nation at the line of scrimmage. It has been the same since his high school days. He lives in the opposition’s backfield, whether as a pass rusher or stopping the run. He has a decent toolbox of pass rush moves and isn’t afraid to use them.
Additionally, Perkins is as strong as they come. There are multiple examples on tape of him forcibly pushing mammoths a lot bigger than him back from the line of scrimmage. His power and strength manifest as a weapon in his pass-rush plan as well. Perkins uses his strong hands to shock his man at the line of scrimmage, and from there, it’s usually game over.
Finally, Perkins exhibits great speed off the Oklahoma edge on tape. Although sometimes he struggles to combine this with the bend and dip needed to get to the quarterback, he can often breeze past opposing linemen with ease.
What are some concerns with Perkins?
The obvious red flag on Ronnie Perkins NFL Draft profile is his suspension from Oklahoma. Although I suspect it won’t have much bearing on his NFL Draft stock, there will presumably be questions asked of him around the subject from teams during the process.
Some teams may be slightly concerned by his weight. At 247 pounds, Perkins is substantially lighter than most current NFL defensive ends. He is also considerably lighter than some of his contemporaries in this 2021 NFL Draft edge class. However, it is worth mentioning that Perkins plays heavier than his weight due to his strength and power.
Finally, Perkins will have to become more disciplined at the NFL level. Although he showed great patience and awareness in the majority of his high school and college tape, there are times when his explosiveness leads to a “bull in a china shop” approach.
What are Ronnie Perkins’ best 2021 NFL Draft fits?
As Ronnie Perkins prepares for the 2021 NFL Draft, what are the best fits for the Oklahoma edge rusher? He will find most success as a traditional defensive end in a 4-3 system, as well as with his hand in the dirt or standing up.
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