The Kansas City Chiefs have a very real competition in the backfield this preseason for key roles going forward in a running back room that could get very young very quickly. Yet even among a group where fringe prospects are earning solid consideration, running back La'Mical Perine is being forgotten this summer.
So far, the group looks like it's going to be a green one and perhaps the cheapest in the NFL. Isiah Pacheco is stepping in as the assumed lead back after showcasing a ferocious running style in the second half of last season. Jerick McKinnon is his assumed tandem partner, good for third-down targets and reliable pass blocking. Behind them is former first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who hopes to change the narrative around his career while he still can.
What's interesting is that Perine is getting lost in this discussion despite the fact that he's got more experience and a stronger draft pedigree than Deneric Prince, who has been a darling of sorts at the position so far in the preseason. The rookie free agent has looked like an echo of Pacheco, who rose from a seventh-round selection to take starter's reps with his signature toughness doing the heavy lifting.
Even when discussing fringe prospects on the roster, La'Mical Perine is often overlooked in Chiefs Kingdom.
How is Perine getting overlooked when even rookie free agents are getting serious profiles from media outlets? Perhaps it's a bit of the shiny nature of new things, but it's also a product of the quotes of coaches and players who have all sung Prince's praises. Edwards-Helaire is a story himself and it's impossible to ignore the fact that Pacheco and McKinnon fared so well as a duo last year.
The good news for Perine is that there's still plenty of runway left for him in the summer to turn the heads of decision-makers before it's too late.
Perine comes to the Chiefs with some NFL experience in his pocket as the former fourth-round choice of the New York Jets back in 2020. In those days, he was a nice scatback option who'd operated as part of a backfield committee for a Florida Gators' offense focused on Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney. With the Jets, he'd earn the same scant touches (75 total his rookie season) without any real production to speak of at the pro level.
At least at Florida, Perine could move the chains enough as a rusher even if he wasn't going to break away with elite top speed. For the Jets, however, he could never even reach 4 yards/carry. On the plus side, he was a solid pass catcher and he's always been a solid special teams player, but his value as an actual rusher is very limited.
The good news for Perine is that he's a coach's favorite with an acclaimed work ethic that's been a focal point at every level. The real question is whether Perine's abilities will let him do what he's laboring to do for the Chiefs. If he understands the assignments well enough, if his technique can be good enough, then there's a real chance for Perine to do the dirty work of the position better than anyone else as an RB4.
For now, however, it looks like Clyde's comeback trail and Prince's debut are set to claim any remaining spots behind Pacheco and McKinnon on the depth chart. Perine can only hope to force his name into the conversation with a strong training camp in St. Joseph.