As Bengals fans we aren’t strangers to an LSU running back sweeping us off our feet. We watched Jeremy Hill during his rookie season show all the promise in the world, but for some reason he struggled to ever replicate that success again. Now he will be finding a home in New England and as he does, another LSU running back is preparing to enter the league in Derrius Guice.
Guice is coming out of LSU after a rocky season that was marked with a nagging injury. He captured the eyes of scouts when he filled in for an injured Leonard Fournette, though back in 2016. He was super productive, and he showed all the makings to be the next great running back to come out of LSU. With that said, there are some negatives to his game that will cause some teams to be cautious when considering him.
Will he maintain his college success in the NFL?
Position: Running back
Weight: 212 pounds
Projected Round: Late in Round 1 or early in Round 2
NFL comparison: NFL.com compares him to Marshawn Lynch
40-yard dash: 4.49 seconds
Bench press: 15 reps
Vertical jump: 31.5”
“Don’t waste your time on 2017 film because he wasn’t even back up to his top speed until the bowl game. He will be the same player he was in 2016. If you had a grade on him after last year, you should use that.” -- LSU assistant coach
The first disclaimer is a lot of people say his 2017 tape was bad because he was playing injured most of the season. He really didn’t have the same speed he had during the 2016 season when he filled in for an injured Fornette. Still you could see a lot of the same issues in 2016 that were more clear in 2017. And, as I said, look no further than the quote above for people trying to make that excuse for Guice.
With that said, there are many positives. Guice is more elusive than he gives himself credit for. You can see on his big play runs how well he sets defenders up for a juke or spin. Still he seems to default to lowering his head to try and fight for extra yards too often, especially for a guy with his elusiveness. He does have enough power to get that extra yard or so, but he seeks out the contact rather than forcing second level players to make difficult open field tackles.
He also bounces his runs outside fairly often, which worked in college, but he’ll have more trouble getting to the sidelines in the NFL. He has home-run potential when he makes it to the open field, but the better safeties in the NFL will probably be able to catch him.
In college, he wasn’t used enough in the passing game. During the past two seasons he caught a total of 27 passes. LSU’s strategy was clearly to run the ball with him, but it is hard to evaluate his pass catching skills with so few attempts. That could easily be something he could add in the NFL. Although, I see him struggling creating big plays out of passes against athletic NFL linebackers. As SB Nation’s Bill Connelly found, a running back’s NFL ceiling is his college stat line.
I think it would shock everyone if the Bengals drafted Guice, but he should be a good addition to a team that is willing to work around what he does best. If he lands on a team that is ready to commit to the running game, he could easily have some Fournette-type success. However, if a team tries to force him into more of a spread role, he could have the same struggles as Hill did during his second through fourth seasons with the Bengals.