Name: Derrius Guice
School: Louisiana State
Weight: 212 lb
40 Time: 4.49s
Awards: First-team All-SEC (2016), second-team All-SEC (2017)
Games Watched: vs Florida, vs Texas A&M, vs Notre Dame (all 2017)
Native of Baton Rouge, Guice starred in high school and was ultimately named MVP of the Army All-American Bowl. Guice was a five-star recruit who committed to staying not just in-state, but in-town with LSU. Started as a backup to Leonard Fournette, starred during Fournette’s injury-hit 2016, named Citrus Bowl MVP following the season, Guice took over and held starting duties in 2017.
Guice seems to be the kind of well-balanced runner that’s going to contribute in multiple facets from early on. Taking first of all his running – at first he might seem like a bulldozer, and he is that for sure. We saw during the Florida game that he was making up for an O-Line by just hitting that first penetrating defender, driving him back. That’s going to serve him well at NFL level. Why? The strength to turn a 0-yard run into a 3 can lead to the difference between a three-and-out and a first down. That strength parlays into the extra effort defenders need to bring him down. He’ll drag along when wrapped up, and still try and fall forward. The Texas A&M tape was great for that.
But he’s not just a simple power back – Guice showed vision and strong decision-making chops to find the few holes that opened for him. And it seems to me that Guice’s favourite runs seemed to be those outside runs. He’d be scooting round, only to dodge the defender setting the edge and be off. This needs both the speed and lateral agility to have confidence and violence in that one-cut, to throw defenders off balance and suddenly flip the play. When we think of Marshawn Lynch, we think Beast Mode. But Lynch was always shifty and loved to wriggle through holes beyond the tackles. Guice thrives similarly. And like Lynch, Guice has a melange of tackle-breaking moves. We have a spin (see vs Florida), a swipe (see vs Texas A&M) and a stiff-arm (see vs Notre Dame). He’s even a good pass blocker, showing off a serviceable chip sometimes, and the patience to wait to pick up the right blitzer others.
Guice’s pass-catching isn’t bad, but he could benefit from a little concentration and relaxation. Sometimes, in the open field he can look a bit frenetic trying to find his spot. The ball can either wriggle free or he can get a bit lost. When he catches the ball in space, he doesn’t quite seem to have the balance he has running through a crowd – on a couple of occasions flailing arms sent him sprawling where otherwise you might’ve expected he could break a tackle and be gone. In fact, there weren’t a huge number of breakaway runs in general. And that bears out – Guice has good not elite speed, and teams were selling out to stop the run. That he had as much success as he did bodes well; that he didn’t have more asks a slight question about ceiling.
And that’s the key – I don’t see many elite traits when I watch Derrius Guice. That’s not necessarily a problem. If you can do everything, teams can’t bank on one type of thing, so that can negate a stand-out skill. But speed, agility, vision, decision-making, pass-blocking – all are good, none are great. Some can be taught, and running backs always have much to learn in the NFL so that’s only a minor negative.
Some team is going to miss out on Saquon Barkley early in the first round, get Guice early in the second and not feel like they’ve missed out too much. Guice is probably a Week 1 contributor – initially on early downs but with a little bit of work on pass catching, on all three soon. I’ve got confidence in him picking up NFL schemes. He should cope if he ends up behind an unremarkable O-Line, like had at LSU. I don’t quite have the confidence he’s got quite enough to be an elite NFL running back, but if he does turn out to, I won’t be surprised.
Projection: Early 2nd round