Over the past few years, the running back position has seen a decline in value. Despite hearing almost every year that the best back in the draft is “the best since Adrian Peterson,” the most running backs taken in the first round since 2010 has been three.
The 2018 NFL Draft isn’t for another three months, but so far, it appears that two backs will be taken in the first round: Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, this year’s “best since Adrian Peterson,” and Louisiana State University’s Derrius Guice.
Guice, a junior, has been an interesting study thus far. As a freshman, he was Leonard Fournette’s backup, and took over when Fournette was hurt. Guice ran for 436 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games. There was a lot of talk about Guice being better than Fournette, or maybe it was just the LSU system.
Fournette disproved that, rushing for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns. Guice did OK for himself, too. His sophomore season, he ran for 1,387 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 7.6 yards per carry.
He came into the 2017 season expected to be a first round selection, possibly a top-15 overall pick. However, he began the year injured, and he dealt with it for most of the year. He still put up big numbers, but he didn’t look like himself in a few games.
When scouting Guice, you notice quite a bit where he lines up. LSU uses him quite a bit either in a single back formation, or running behind a fullback. It isn’t super important, but it’s a good trait to have.
It jumps off the screen as clear as day that he is a very violent runner. At 5’11”, 218 pounds, he isn’t afraid to run someone over, but it’s not just that. Maybe my favorite part about Guice is that his feet are always moving, even after first contact. He doesn’t go down on first contact, he keeps his feet moving constantly, allowing him to get a few more yards or fall forward more often than not. He’ll often shake off the first tackle, especially if it isn’t a solid one. The fact that he makes yards for himself is part of what makes Guice so special.
He isn’t solely a power back, he has very good speed as well. He can beat players to the edge, and when he gets to the second level, it’s usually over. Not only that, but he can make a defender miss. It isn’t his go-to, but he can when he needs to.
Guice has solid vision, and he rarely misses a hole when there is one. However, there are times when he lacks patience. Not everyone is Le’Veon Bell in that sense, almost at a standstill waiting for a hole to open up. However, like Fournette last year, Guice knows he can overpower a defender, or use his speed, so he will hit the line of scrimmage right away.
This isn’t to say he does it all the time, though. There were quite a few times, when he bounced it to the outside and used his speed to get a first down. His patience isn’t bad, but it’s inconsistent at times. And even when it is, he creates yardage for himself.
As for the bad parts about Guice’s game, there aren’t that many.
I touched on his patience, and while it’s not bad, it is sometimes inconsistent.
He’s not Saquon Barkley or Christian McCaffrey when it comes to catching the ball, but he’s not bad either. He caught 18 passes this season, and he has good hands. He’s good in open space, and can make a defender miss.
One thing I noticed quite a bit was his blocking. As a three-down back, you have to be able to pass block. Again, this is something he isn’t bad at, but it’s definitely the area he needs to improve on the most. He goes down low quite a bit, and while he is usually successful with that, I didn’t see too much of him standing up on his feet to block.
Despite being a top player in the draft, he won’t be the selection for the 49ers. Although they sit at the end of the top ten, it’s not at all like Kyle Shanahan to use a first-round pick on a running back, and they have more glaring needs at other positions.
Overall, Derrius Guice is definitely a top 10 to 15 player in this draft, and will be taken as such. In any other class, he would be the top back, but because of Barkley he is number two, which is not to say he is a slouch at all. During my evaluation, it was tough to find things that Guice did wrong, and even the ones that were, such as his patience, were nit-picks. He has very good balance, is rarely taken down after first contact, and is very good in the open field with his speed and ability to make people miss when he needs to.