At 28 years old, Paul Perkins has this physical status:
His father, Bruce Perkins, played fullback at Arizona State and briefly in the NFL. His uncle, Don Perkins, played eight seasons as a running back with the Dallas Cowboys. His younger brother, Bryce Perkins, plays quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams.
Perkins attended Chandler High School in Chandler, Arizona, where he played high school football with his childhood friend and future college teammate Brett Hundley. As a senior, Perkins was named first-team all-state after rushing for 1,297 yards and 20 touchdowns. He was also the most valuable player (MVP) of the track team, which won the state title.
Considered a three-star recruit by Rivals.com, he was rated as the 40th-best athlete prospect of his class. On December 4, 2011, he committed to UCLA over offers from Fresno State and Northwestern.
Perkins redshirted as a true freshman in 2012. In 2013, he became the Bruins' primary rusher after starter Jordon James sprained his ankle. Perkins started four games, and rushed for 573 yards on 134 carries (4.3 avg) and six touchdowns. He also caught 24 passes for 296 yards. In 2014, he worked his way into a pivotal role in the offense. As a backup to James in the season opener, Perkins ran for 80 yards against Virginia. He later became the team's starter. With starting quarterback Hundley exiting in the first quarter after an injury, Perkins gained 195 all-purpose yards in a 20–17 win over Texas. In the Alamo Bowl, he was named the game's offensive MVP after running for a then-career-high 194 yards and scoring two touchdowns in a 40–35 win over Kansas State. He finished the season as the Pac-12 leader with 1,575 yards rushing, the second-highest in UCLA history behind Johnathan Franklin (1,734 in 2012).
In 2015, Perkins ran for a career-high 219 yards against BYU. He finished his junior year with 1,343 yards and 14 touchdowns, and was named second-team All-Pac-12. After the season, he decided to forgo his senior season and declared for the 2016 NFL Draft.
Coming out of UCLA, Perkins was projected to be a third to fourth-round draft pick by various draft analysts. He was rated as the seventh-best running back by NFLDraftScout.com. Perkins was invited to the NFL Combine but was unable to finish all the drills after suffering an injury to his hamstring while running his 40-yard dash. Scouts and analysts gave mostly positive reviews focused on his one-cut ability, quality vision, reliable hands, decisive gap selection, and willingness to pick up blitzes. He was also criticized for his lack of consistent play speed, limited route options, and smallish frame.
Perkins was selected by the New York Giants in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft with the 149th overall pick. He signed a four-year, $2.59 million contract that included a signing bonus of $252,548. Perkins entered the 2016 season as the Giants' fourth running back on the depth chart, behind veterans Rashad Jennings, Bobby Rainey, and Orleans Darkwa. Late in the year, Perkins was being used as the primary back, in front of Jennings. In the regular season finale against the Washington Redskins, he had 21 carries for 102 rushing yards. The Giants lost in the wild card round of the playoffs to the Green Bay Packers.
In May 2017, Giants head coach Ben McAdoo named Perkins the starting running back. Perkins played in 11 games in 2017 season and finished with 41 carries for 90 rushing yards and eight receptions for 46 yards. On May 10, 2018, he was waived by the Giants with a non-football injury designation after suffering a pectoral injury in the offseason, and then placed on their reserve/non-football injury list. On September 16, 2019, Perkins was waived by the Giants.
On September 17, 2019, Perkins was claimed off waivers by the Detroit Lions. He was released on October 17 and re-signed to the practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster on October 23. He was released on October 30 and re-signed to the practice squad. He was promoted back to the active roster on November 2. He was waived on November 16. In four games with the Lions, he recorded 12 carries for 29 rushing yards.
On December 3, 2019, Perkins was signed to the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad. His practice squad contract with the team expired after the Jaguars' season on January 6, 2020.
On January 7, 2020, Perkins was signed to the Baltimore Ravens practice squad. His practice squad contract with the team expired on January 20, 2020.
On November 19, 2020, Perkins was signed to the Indianapolis Colts practice squad. On January 10, 2021, Perkins signed a reserve/futures contract with the Colts. He was released on May 3, 2021.