Malcolm Perry

Fresh Perspective: Malcolm Perry offers Dolphins creative opportunities on offense

It’s clear that Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores enjoys versatility in his players. Many of the 2020 draft selections made by Miami have the ability to play more than one position. But perhaps no one offers more versatility – and room for creativity – than seventh-round draft pick Malcolm Perry out of Navy. Usually, players would have to serve for a certain amount of time before moving into the NFL. But recent changes have allowed him to pursue his NFL career beforehand.

“It means a lot. It means the world.” Perry said. “As a kid growing up, this is a dream come true for sure, so just choosing that route and then everything unfolding in a very fortunate sequence for me with the rule being changed. It means a lot because I know a lot of guys that I played with in the past who didn’t get the opportunity, but definitely had the talent. It means a lot to be in this position and I’m very fortunate.”

Now all that’s left is to determine what Perry’s role will be with the Miami Dolphins.

While playing at Navy, Perry quickly turned himself into a jack of all trades. In his four years at Navy, as a rusher, he ran for 4,359 yards and 40 touchdowns on 614 attempts. As a quarterback, his numbers are significantly less impressive. It wasn’t until 2019 when he started throwing the ball on a more regular basis, throwing it 86 times with 48 completions. Those completions resulted in 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns.

Most concerning is his completion percentage. At only 51.3 percent, it’s clear that for one reason or another, Malcolm Perry struggles to find his target on throws. However, in all fairness to him, the Buffalo Bills currently have their franchise QB in Josh Allen, who only had a 56.2 percent completion stat while at Wyoming. So while it is undoubtedly a concern, it should not disqualify him from ever throwing the football.

So as a quarterback, his skills are subpar. As a running back, his production is undeniable. In 2019 he even ran for over 2,000 yards for the Navy Midshipmen. That is not an easy task no matter what level of competition you face.

Then at the combine, Perry decided to make one more change, working out as a wide receiver, where more focus was placed on his ability to catch instead of run.

“I played wide receiver at the combine. That was my main position. That’s what I’ve been training for the whole time, but the willingness and I think I have the ability to go other places if need be.” Perry said. “Going into it, I think my skills kind of translate to that position pretty well. And it was where I was most uncomfortable as a player. I felt pretty natural at running back, if I needed to make that transition. I just wanted to be as good as I could at my weakest position transition that I thought. So, that’s what I’ve been training for, that’s what I was projected to play at the next level; but obviously, like I said, I’m open to anything. I just wanted to practice there and felt like my skills translated there the best.”

As of now, the Dolphins have Malcolm Perry listed as a running back. That puts him in a room that now consists of Jordan Howard, Matt Breida, Kalen Ballage, Patrick Laird, Myles Gaskin, and De’Lance Turner. It’s all but a given that Howard and Breida will be the two main running backs going into the season. As for Laird, he’s quickly become a fan favorite and found ways to produce when others (Ballage) could not. If Perry wants to stick as a running back, he’ll have to show he can contribute in other ways.

Or, he could simply be used in an entirely unique way.

Fans will remember the infamous wildcat offense as the reason the Dolphins managed to bring down the New England Patriots all the way back in 2008. Bill Belichick – for the first time in forever – found himself dumbfounded and helpless to stop Miami as Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams teamed up to embarrass the seemingly invincible Patriots with their gimmick offense.

But as time passed, the wildcat became more and more of a novelty. Teams caught on to the pattern and were able to bring it to a screeching halt. Since then, other teams have only used it sparingly, and rarely with much success. The Dolphins attempted it last season with Kalen Ballage taking snaps with mixed results. However, possibly the biggest reason for its regression is there’s a rarely used element of the wildcat.

Passing.

Undoubtedly, the image of Taysom Hill comes to mind. The New Orleans Saints gadget player recently signed a rather lucrative contract just for his versatility. He’s not a pure quarterback, as much as he may want to be. But during the rare times he gets to throw, teams are seldom expecting it. Hill being on the field usually means a run or a reception. Him throwing it rarely crosses defensive minds.

Is it a completely fair comparison? Most likely not. Hill is quite a bit larger than Malcolm Perry, weighing in over 30 pounds heavier and nearly half a foot taller. However, that just means Perry can’t be used as a power player. He needs to base his game more on speed and agility.

If Malcolm Perry has the potential to become Miami’s own version of Taysom Hill, then all bets are off for the Dolphins offense. Miami can bring back the wildcat properly, run the read option, have an emergency backup quarterback, and even save a roster spot if it’s deemed he’s needed elsewhere. Kalen Ballage’s one niche will no longer be exclusively his.

Perry will never become a franchise quarterback. That much is obvious. But the possibilities with his ability to throw the football are endless. Smart NFL coaches know how to utilize players like Perry. Many analysts and scouts projected him landing in New England. Everyone knows how Bill Belichick likes to sneak in some Julian Edelman passes.

But once again, Brian Flores shows how much he knows thanks to his time under Belichick’s regime. Instead of allowing Perry to fall into Belichick’s hands, he and GM Chris Grier used a late draft pick to ensure his spot on their roster. Now it’s up to Flores and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey to get the most out of Perry’s diverse skillset. If they’re smart, which they seem to be, then Dolphins fans should be very excited for some highlight reel plays. It may take some time, but anyone who’s waited this long can wait a little longer.

Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for seven years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung

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