Derrius Guice

Poll: Which Rookie RB Will Rush For Most Yards In 2018?

In selecting their third first-round running back of this century, the Giants continued to show how they regard this position despite its marginalization over the past several years. Saquon Barkley is the odds-on favorite to win offensive rookie of the year.

However, the running back position produces annual mid- or late-round surprises — from Devonta Freeman to Jordan Howard to Kareem Hunt — that end up providing immense value to certain teams. The Giants obviously have an incredibly gifted ball-carrier set to take handoffs from Eli Manning, but which of Barkley’s peers is in the best position to challenge him (and the quarterback contingent) for the OROY honor?

The other two first-round RBs look to be less equipped for a strong challenge due to circumstances.

Sony Michel‘s prospects of being an immediate ground producer may have been better on a different team. While the Patriots boast one of the NFL’s best offensive lines, Bill Belichick notoriously finds myriad usages for his backs and involves nearly all of them. Although, Dion Lewis‘ departure after a 180-carry season opens the door for someone to take over as New England’s primary back. And Michel averaged 7.9 yards per carry on 156 totes at Georgia last season. Rashaad Penny looks to be behind Chris Carson to start the season, and the surprise first-rounder may be given time to develop for a Seattle team that’s struggled on the ground for a few years now.

After Round 1, however, it becomes a bit more interesting. The Buccaneers did not possess a formidable depth chart at running back prior to investing their second-round pick in USC’s Ronald Jones. In 2017, Jones rushed for 1,550 yards and scored 20 total touchdowns. He could well be an early-season starter, with the likes of Jacquizz Rodgers and Peyton Barber in his path toward a first-string role. Chosen just before Jones, Nick Chubb will have to contend with Carlos Hyde in Cleveland this season for the revamped Browns. Chubb, though, notched three 1,000-yard seasons in the nation’s toughest conference.

Kerryon Johnson looks to be set to start in a committee in Detroit, but the Lions have been desperate for a surefire ground producer for years now. And they view Johnson as a three-down backLeGarrette Blount and Ameer Abdullah reside in the Motor City carries picture, but neither would impede Johnson from a major role if he proves ready from the outset. Derrius Guice could have a quicker path to playing time in Washington. Considered by some the second-best back in this draft, the LSU product fell largely because of character concerns. However, Guice averaged 7.6 yards per carry in 2016 on nearly 200 attempts and is expected to push for the Redskins’ starting job from the start.

Also expected to challenge for an early role: the Broncos’ Royce Freeman. The Oregon-developed talent posted three 1,300-plus-yard seasons with the Ducks, amassing a staggering 947 college carries. With the Broncos having moved on from four-year starter C.J. Anderson, only Devontae Booker (299 rushing yards last season) resides in the third-rounder’s path. Is he a threat to be the 2018 version of Hunt?

As for Barkley, he has the most obvious route to a full-time gig. Despite Jonathan Stewart now being in the Big Apple, the Penn State dynamo will factor in from the start of the Giants’ season. And the three-down back totaled at least 2,300 yards from scrimmage in back-to-back years for the Nittany Lions. The Giants have questions up front, having lost Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg, but they added multiple UFAs — spearheaded by Nate Solder — and chose likely Day 1 starter Will Hernandez in Round 2.

So, will Barkley’s situation be too much for the rest of this class to overcome, a la Ezekiel Elliott? Or will one of the later-round picks emerge in Hunt fashion? Is there a Day 3 dark horse in this year’s class in the mold of Freeman or Howard? Take PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Redskins, Bears, Fins, Packers

If rookie Derrius Guice isn’t the Redskins‘ starting running back in Week 1, consider Washington’s backfield a surprise, per John Keim of ESPN.com. Guice was expected to be selected in the first round of the 2018 draft, but off-field concerns ultimately forced him into Day 2. While he’s never been involved in any legal trouble, Guice has been labeled as “immature,” and his pre-draft visit with the Eagles was reportedly the worst such meeting Philadelphia had ever taken with a prospect. All that aside, Guice has landed in an intriguing spot, and should easily be able to beat out the likes of Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine for early-down work in the nation’s capital. Passing downs still belongs to Chris Thompson, who registered 54 catches in 2017 before going down with fractured fibula.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Bears running back Tarik Cohen managed 53 receptions during his rookie season in 2017, and his role could grow even larger during his sophomore NFL campaign, as Cohen told The Jim Rome Show that Chicago’s new offensive staff has been lining him up all over the field. “It’s similar to some of the stuff I did in college,” Cohen said, according to Madeline Kinney of the Chicago Sun-Times. “I feel like like if I can take the football, he (new head coach Matt Nagy) also wants me to take the football, too. So how many plays he has me at — I’ve been everywhere. It’s been crazy.” For what it’s worth, Nagy has reportedly already indicated Jordan Howard will be the Bears’ “main guy” in the backfield, as he well should be after posting 1,000+ yard rushing seasons in each of his first two NFL seasons. But Nagy and new offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich will likely deploy Cohen as a satellite back, as he’s far more capable in the passing game than is Howard.
  • 2017 second-round pick Raekwon McMillan was pegged to become the Dolphins‘ starting middle linebacker in his rookie campaign, but a torn ACL ended his first NFL season before it began. Still, Miami brass — including defensive coordinator Matt Burke — still views McMillan as an important part of the club’s defense going forward, as Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post writes. “We had high hopes for him last year,” Burke said. “Nothing he’s done since then has discouraged that. … He’s been really in-tune, been really sharp. He’s got all the leadership skills and things that we look for, especially at that position. He’s worked his ass off to get better. He’s rehabbed. He’s in here every day. He hasn’t shown any limitations so far, which has been encouraging. Hopefully he’s a big piece for us.” The Dolphins cut veteran ‘backer Lawrence Timmons earlier this year, so McMillan appears set to play as an every-down linebacker alongside Kiko Alonso. McMillan, an Ohio State product, participated in Miami’s organized team activity sessions in May, a good sign of his progress.
  • Approximately six teams were vying to sign undrafted running back Akrum Wadley earlier this year, but the Iowa product ultimately landed with the Titans, where he now could land a spot on the club’s opening 53-man roster, writes Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com. Tennessee only made four selections in the 2018 draft, necessitating its large — 22-man — undrafted free agent class. Wadley was part of that crop, and now he’s one of only five backs on the team, joining Dion Lewis, Derrick Henry, David Fluellen, and fellow UDFA Dalyn Dawkins. As such, it’s entirely possible Wadley could beat out Fluellen for the Titans’ third running back job, although he’ll likely need to flash on special teams to do so. Wadley topped 1,000 yards rushing in each of his two final collegiate seasons, and totaled 64 receptions during those years.
  • Offensive tackle Kyle Murphy showed well in three games as a Packers‘ starter in 2017, but he’s now attempting to come back from a foot injury that cost him the remainder of the season, as Mike Spofford of Packers.com details. Murphy, a 2016 sixth-round pick, was fully cleared for minicamp, and now could have a legitimate chance to start on the right side of Green Bay’s front five. Bryan Bulaga, the Packers’ nominal right tackle, is once again dealing with injuries of his own, and if he’s not medically cleared, right tackle will turn into a competition between Murphy, former second-rounder Jason Spriggs, and veteran addition Byron Bell. As a unit, Green Bay’s offensive line ranked fifth in run-blocking but just 28th in pass-blocking, per Football Outsiders.

NFC Notes: Packers, Kizer, Rams, Donald, Redskins, Guice

Like most years, the success of the 2018 Packers will depend on the health of Aaron Rodgers. But unlike last year, who the Packers might turn to if Rodgers were to go down isn’t clear. The team was reportedly high on Brett Hundley, and was seen by most around the league as having some trade value before he was forced into action when Rodgers broke his collarbone last year. Hundley struggled mightily across nine starts, throwing for just nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions with a dismal 5.8 yards per attempt.

The Packers showed their dissatisfaction with Hundley by trading for DeShone Kizer this offseason. Now the once hot commodity finds himself in a battle just for his roster spot. The Packers’ upcoming three day minicamp is expected to be a big development in the battle for the backup quarterback spot, according to Michael Cohen of Packers News. Cohen notes that Hundley is heading into the final year of his rookie contract, and will have to show out this summer in order for the Packers to bring him back next year, especially with Kizer waiting in the wings.

With Rodgers expected to be excused from the minicamp, Cohen states that Hundley is “expected to take the majority of first-team reps” but that Kizer “will have ample opportunity to show his progress.” Whatever happens, it’ll be an interesting situation to keep an eye on as Kizer seeks to revive his career in Green Bay.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Cohen reports that Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is expected to be in attendance for the mandatory minicamp. The 2014 first-rounder is heading into the final year of his rookie contract after the Packers exercised his fifth-year option last year. Clinton-Dix has missed all of OTAs for undisclosed reasons.
  • The Rams are uncertain whether or not Aaron Donald will show up for their mandatory minicamp, which starts tomorrow, according to Lindsey Thiry of ESPN. Donald is angling for a contract extension that will make him the league’s highest paid defensive player as he enters the last year of his rookie deal. Donald held out of all of training camp and ended up missing the first game of the season last year due to unhappiness with his contract, although he did show up to minicamp last year to avoid being fined.
  • The Redskins coaching staff “loves what they’ve seen” from Derrius Guice this offseason, according to Albert Breer of SI.com. Breer says “murky rumors” are the only reason Guice fell to the Redskins in the second round of this year’s draft, and that the Redskins think they got a great value. The Redskins have a crowded running back room, but Breer thinks Guice “should be a factor” in his rookie season.

Redskins Sign 6 Draft Choices

Shortly after the Redskins’ agreement with first-round defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne was announced, Washington came to terms with six more of its 2018 draft picks, per John Keim of ESPN.com. Here’s the full rundown:

Only one of the Redskins’ draft picks remains unsigned — third-round offensive lineman Geron Christian — and that’s not exactly surprising given this CBA’s interesting lack of clarity regarding third-round contracts. But Washington has the rest of its group in tow as the team moves further into its OTAs.

Guice is the most notable of this sextet, falling extensively during draft weekend and having reported issues before the draft. The LSU product plummeted to Washington near the end of the second round, and he’s in position to compete for the team’s starting job. He joins Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley as Washington’s primary backs set to complement passing-down specialist Chris Thompson.

Settle figures to compete for depth on a defensive front that may well have Payne included among its starters this season. And Hamilton joins Payne and 2017 first-round pick Jonathan Allen as former Crimson Tide cogs to be part of the Redskins’ front seven.

Latest On Derrius Guice

Former LSU running back Derrius Guice, widely regarded as the second-best back in this year’s class behind Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, slipped to the bottom of the second round before the Redskins snapped him up with the No. 59 overall selection. The slide was not especially surprising in light of reports of personality concerns that emerged earlier this month, and yesterday we heard that his visits with NFL clubs did not go well.

There are now a few more details on that front. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, citing Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, said that Guice’s meeting with the Eagles — who were certainly in the market for a running back in the draft, though they ultimately did not select one — ultimately devolved into a “shouting match.” One unnamed source called it the worst meeting Philadelphia ever had with a player.

Florio had the opportunity to speak with Guice prior to the draft, and when he asked Guice to comment on the conflicting stories he told as to certain questions he claimed NFL teams asked him, Guice chose to simply avoid the topic. He has been described as “immature” and “high-maintenance,” and one executive from a club that had several opportunities to draft him said that, unless he matures quickly, he will wear out his welcome in Washington in a couple of years.

Eagles GM Howie Roseman, though, has downplayed any talk of an altercation between his team and his new division rival. Per John Keim of ESPN.com, Roseman said, “There was no altercation. When you hear the word ‘altercation,’ it sounds like fisticuffs or something, or yelling or screaming. I don’t know I’ve ever been in a room where a player has yelled at anyone. Sometimes you can’t believe everything you read or hear.”

For his part, Guice is prepared to put his negative publicity behind him and move on. He said, “Everything that is behind me is behind me. This is a fresh, clean slate. I’m just ready to get to work.”

Not being picked in the first round will hurt Guice’s earnings on his rookie contract, but he is still expected to be the Redskins’ starting running back.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Notes: Steelers, Hurst, Guice, Bears

It’s been a busy couple of days here at Pro Football Talk, and that’s partly due to a record-breaking number of trades. As ESPN’s Jenna Laine tweets, there were 14 trades yesterday, the highest Day 2 total since the draft expanded to three days. There have also been 21 total trades through the first 48 hours, which is also the most since 2010.

Let’s check out some more draft notes from around the NFL…

  • The Steelers were targeting Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans with their first-round pick, reports Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (via Twitter). When he was taken by the Titans with the 22nd pick, Pittsburgh shifted their focus to another position, selecting safety Terrell Edmunds. As Dulac notes, the team ultimately didn’t rate the remaining linebackers high enough to dedicate a first-rounder at the position.
  • Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr. hasn’t fallen down draft boards solely because of injuries. Rather, as Yahoo’s Charles Robinson tweets, the prospect’s tape “was a little more up and down than expected.” While the player showed flashes of brilliance, he also had some glaring “empty stretches.” Meanwhile, Jason La Canfora attributes Hurst’s fall to medical reasons, as the reporter tweets that teams are concerned about the defensive lineman’s heart condition. This concern has caused the player to completely fall off some teams’ draft boards.
  • Meanwhile, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport provides insight into why LSU running back Derrius Guice is sliding (Twitter link). The player has been described as “immature” and “high-maintenance,” and his visits did not go well, according to the reporter.
  • The Bears selected Memphis wideout Anthony Miller midway through the second round yesterday, but it sounds like they had their eye on a receiver in the first round. ESPN’s Vaughn McClure tweets that Chicago tried to trade up for Alabama wideout Calvin Ridley, who was selected 26th overall by the Falcons.

Draft Rumors: Allen, Cardinals, Broncos

Josh Allen‘s camp has been doing damage control on Thursday morning, and it seems to be working thus far. Allen and his representatives have been on the phone with possible destination teams today, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link) these old tweets being unearthed is not believed to be an occurrence that will cause his stock to tumble. Allen has told teams these tweets were either references to a Rick Ross song or to movies and TV shows, with Rapoport adding some were tweets to friends. Teams are hesitant to judge the Wyoming- and central California-developed quarterback based on tweets from high school, per Rapoport (on Twitter).

Here’s the latest from the draft:

  • Maybe a team representing Allen’s floor, the Cardinals are considering moving up for the right price, Mike Jurecki of ArizonaSports.com tweets. This is the latest out of Arizona, which has been linked to trade-up rumors this week. The Cardinals are in need of a long-term quarterback answer, and it’s possible none of the top four will be there when their No. 15 window opens.
  • The Browns taking Baker Mayfield at No. 1 would be a surprise and could change the Broncos‘ draft outlook. Of the big four, Mayfield and Sam Darnold are the only ones the Broncos take if they’re still on the board at No. 5, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. If Mayfield does go to the Browns, Darnold would be a consideration for the Giants — if they stick at No. 2 — and the Jets’ interest in the USC passer hasn’t been much of a secret. And it’s possible the Bills could move up to the No. 4 spot as well, so the Broncos could be set to go with a non-QB at No. 5 or trade back with a quarterback-seeking team.
  • While this offseason produced little to indicate the Browns would go with Mayfield, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein tweets we are hours away from that scenario unfolding. Zierlein tweets Mayfield-to-Cleveland “is happening.” He adds the Giants don’t love any of these quarterbacks, perhaps explaining the massive Saquon Barkley-to-New York buzz. Big Blue has now been connected to a trade-down scenario when it did not look like that would be the case for weeks now.
  • Derrius Guice indicated a team asked inappropriate questions to him at the Combine, but on Thursday, an investigation concluded that no proof of this emerged, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The questions ranged from if the running back prospect liked men or whether or not his mother was a prostitute. “The investigation did not confirm that any club made the reported inquiries,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. The LSU product is considered a late-first-round prospect.

LSU’s Key, Guice To Slip In Draft?

Two top talents from LSU could slide in this year’s draft, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. Despite their talent, teams have serious concerns about defensive end Arden Key and running back Derrius Guice.

Key’s issues have been well-documented. The edge rusher is coming off of a down year and recently revealed to teams that his “leave of absence” from the team stemmed from a voluntary stint in rehab for marijuana use.

He was a shell of what he was,” an AFC scout said of his 2017 season. “His actions have proven to be habitual, and I don’t know that he can kick it.

Marijuana isn’t a major deal for NFL teams in this day and age, but Pelissero hears that evaluators see his usage as an impediment to his career. Key has to answer for being overweight in his final season on campus and clubs are also concerned about his offseason shoulder surgery. On a Friday afternoon conference call, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said that he thinks Key is likely to go in the fourth or fifth round because of off-field concerns.

Guice, meanwhile, still ranks as one of the top players at his position, but personality concerns could hurt him. Guice made headlines earlier this year when he said that he was asked during combine interviews about his sexual orientation and whether his mother was a prostitute. Apparently, Guice has privately walked back those claims and said that he was not asked those questions by NFL teams.

His explanation was that it was taken out of context,” one executive said. “There’s just a lot going on with him.

While Key now seems a longshot to hear his name called in Day 1 of the draft, Guice could still be a first round pick.

Is he talented? Yep. Do you have to have a handle on how to deal with him? Absolutely,” an offensive coordinator said. “He’s not a bad person — he’s just immature, silly. If he wasn’t all that other stuff, he’d be drafted in the top 20 picks. And he still might be in the top 20 picks.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Dez, Giants, Redskins, Eagles

Dez Bryant wants to sign with the Giants after being released by the division-rival Cowboys last week, but a current New York wideout isn’t on board with that idea. In a now-deleted Instagram story, Giants receiver Brandon Marshall said there was “no room” for Bryant on Big Blue’s roster, as Jaclyn Hendricks of the New York Post writes. Marshall, for his part, bombed during his first campaign in New York, as an ankle injury limited him to just five games and 18 receptions. Viewed as a possible cap casualty heading into the offseason, Marshall has surprisingly stuck on the Giants’ roster to this point. New York could still release Marshall at any point, however, and doing so would save the club in excess of $5MM in cap space.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • The Redskins were busy hosting draft prospects over the past two days, as Georgia running back Sony Michel, Ohio State center Billy Price, and Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea all visited the nation’s capital on Tuesday/Wednesday, according to John Keim of ESPN.com (all Twitter links). Michel would join a running back depth chart that already includes Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine, and Rob Kelley, while Price could start at either guard or center in lieu of Arie Kouandjio or Chase Roullier, respectively. Vea, meanwhile, would help fill a gap at defensive tackle that the Redskins have already attempted to fill this offseason by showing interest in free agents such as Johnathan Hankins and Bennie Logan.
  • Southern Methodist wideout Courtland Sutton met with the Cowboys on Wednesday, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Dallas has a gaping need at receiver after cutting Bryant, as their roster is currently littered by second- and third-tier pass-catchers. Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Deonte Thompson, and Ryan Switzer front the Cowboys’ WR depth chart, but Sutton — who is viewed as either a first- or second-round selection — could give Dallas a potential No. 1 wideout. The 6’4″, 215-pound Sutton posted at least 1,000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns in each of the past two seasons.
  • The Eagles hosted running backs Derrius Guice (LSU) and Rashaad Penny (San Diego State) on Tuesday, reports Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Guice is widely considered 2018’s second-best running back prospect behind Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, and there’s no guarantee he’ll still be on the board when Philadelphia picks at the end of round one. While the Eagles lost LeGarrette Blount to the Lions during the free agent period, they still have Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, and Donnel Pumphrey on their roster.

NFL Draft Rumors: Guice, Redskins, Patriots, Bills, Giants, Darnold

Running back Derrius Guice visited the Redskins at their team facility on Monday, a source tells John Keim of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Redskins have been public about their desire to add a pass-catching running back and Guice, with 18 catches last year at LSU, would fit the bill.

With needs to address on the other side of the ball, many believe that the Redskins will take a defensive player at No. 13 overall. However, the Redskins could probably trade back into the early 20s to take Guice and address their defensive holes later on.

Here’s the latest round of NFL draft news:

  • The Patriots hosted UCLA left tackle Kolton Miller on a pre-draft visit, Ben Volin of The Boston Globe tweets.
  • Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen met with the Bills on Monday and will travel to the Giants on Tuesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Meanwhile, USC QB Sam Darnold met with the Giants on Monday and will meet with the Jets on Tuesday.
  • Linebacker Rashaan Evans visited the Bengals on Monday, Rapoport tweets. The Bengals own the No. 21 pick in the draft, which could allow them to snag the Alabama standout.
  • Speaking of Alabama, Rapoport also notes that standout defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne met with the Redskins on Monday. Payne has shot up draft boards in recent weeks thanks to his remarkable strength. “He’s the best. He’s the best I’ve seen,”Alabama strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran said earlier this year. “I’ve never seen a guy hit 385 on the power clean every single year. His first year he hit 365 on the power clean and it was like wow, freshman, that’s incredible.
  • USC running back Ronald Jones visited the Patriots on Monday, Rapoport tweets. Within the same tweet, he notes that Stanford safety Justin Reid visited the Panthers before heading off to his Steelers visit.
  • Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson took a pre-draft visit to meet with the 49ers on Monday, a league source told Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. The 49ers have the ninth pick in the first round and Jackson is projected to come off the board as a middle-to-late first-round pick.
  • LSU pass-rusher Arden Key visited the Bears on Monday, Rapoport tweets. He also notes Memphis wide receiver Anthony Miller visited the Redskins on Monday and Tulane cornerback Parry Nickerson visited the Raiders.