When the 2017 NFL Draft concludes on Saturday, Texas Longhorns offensive guard Kent Perkins hopes that he will become the first offensive lineman drafted out of Austin since Tony Hills in 2008.
However, Perkins will have to overcome largely underwhelming film at Texas.
Recruited by the Longhorns at a time when former head coach Mack Brown was still securing early commitments, Perkins was a highly-considered player in the 2013 recruiting class — the 247Sports Composite rankings slotted him as the No. 38 player overall and the No. 3 offensive tackle.
There were doubts about whether Perkins could remain outside at tackle in college, but he appeared to perform well enough during US Army All-American practices in early 2013 to allay some of those concerns.
After arriving in Austin, Perkins played in six games as a true freshman, including a start against Texas Tech in the season finale.
For the next three years, the 6’5, 320-pounder started every game he played with the Longhorns, splitting time between right guard and right tackle until moving inside full time in 2016.
As a senior, Perkins was a second-team All-Big 12 selection, but that was largely based on reputation, as the Lake Highlands product was one of the weaker links on the Texas offensive line during the 10 games in which he played.
In fact, had the Longhorns not suffered so many injuries along the line and the lack of development from Patrick Vahe, Perkins would have been relegated to a back-up role based on his lack of effectiveness.
It certainly hurts the value of Perkins for NFL teams that he wasn’t ultimately capable of playing at a high level at right tackle. Further hurting his value is the fact that he didn’t play particularly well inside, either.
The feet and athleticism weren’t there for Perkins to play outside, despite receiving good marks in those areas out of high school. He was also slow pulling on plays like power and struggled with his leverage at times due to his height.
And even though he was able to put up 35 reps on the bench press at the Texas Pro Day, he wasn’t able to consistently translate that strength into mauling efforts as an offensive guard.
A lack of flexibility for Perkins is an issue, and one that he’s been working on since his college career ended, as the inability to bend and then roll out through his hips was a major reason why his run blocking wasn’t more effective with the ‘Horns.
The strength is impressive, though — no offensive line prospect at the NFL Combine did more reps and Perkins said afterwards that he’s done as many as 42 reps in training.
He also had a 30.5-inch vertical and an 8-11 broad jump, both good numbers for a player of his size.
There’s an outside chance that an NFL team could take a risk on Perkins in the seventh round based on his size, strength, and overall athleticism. However, it’s much more likely that Perkins will have to settle for a contract as an undrafted free agent.
In evaluating his four years with the Longhorns, there’s no particular reason to believe that he will stick long in the NFL at that point.