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Derrius Guice could be the running back the Redskins have been looking for

April 14, 2018 at 9:33 PM

Derrius Guice has the potential to be an effective early-down running back. (Michael Conroy/Associated Press)

The Washington Redskins haven’t been shy about their desire to upgrade at running back. Both Doug Williams and Jay Gruden have emphasized the need for a back who can carry the load on first and second down to give the offense balance. The team opted against addressing the position in free agency, but there is a deep pool of talent available in the draft.

One of the top prospects is LSU’s Derrius Guice, an incredibly physical runner who often requires multiple defenders to bring him down. He combines that approach with good speed and a sharp cutting ability to give him the option of eluding a defender or simply running him over — meaning he could fill the role the Redskins are looking for.

On this play, Guice looks to run up the middle, but as he approaches the line of scrimmage, the tight end begins to lose control of his block. With a defender working across the tight end to close the hole inside, Guice makes a quick adjustment, bending his run outside of the defender and tight end before working to get back on his original path inside. As he works back inside, Guice meets another defender, dropping his shoulder and running him over before eventually being tackled.

While Guice’s 2017 season was full of highlight plays, he played much of the year hurt and didn’t quite have the same explosiveness he displayed in 2016.

Here, Guice takes the handoff on a run to the left. The tight end gets blown up by a defensive tackle, causing Guice to make a subtle adjustment to his path. The defender then dives, tripping him slightly, but Guice manages to maintain his balance as he bursts into the second level. From there, Guice bends his run to the right before using a spin move to avoid a safety working up from deep. Another defender attempts to rip the ball loose, but Guice holds firm and manages to break free of that defender before he’s tackled for a first down.

His 2016 season is full of plays like these, where not only his power but his explosive burst and speed are clear. Guice still flashed those traits this past season, but not as regularly due to his injuries.

On this play from 2017, Guice takes the handoff on an outside run to the right. As he secures the exchange from the quarterback, he’s met by two unblocked linebackers scraping over the top. Many backs would stutter and get tackled early in this situation, but Guice manages to bend his run back inside smoothly at a speed that neither linebacker is prepared for. Guice then cuts back even farther to run away from the safety, picking up even more yards before lowering his shoulder and laying a big hit on a cornerback.

But while Guice’s injuries restricted him from being consistently explosive and running away from defenders, it never limited his desire to break tackles.

Here, LSU runs a counter trey to the right. Guice shows good patience, allowing his two pulling blockers to lead the way and create a path for him to run through. But as he begins to burst through the hole, the defensive end from the back side of the run works down the line to attempt a tackle. He makes contact with Guice as he crosses the line of scrimmage, but Guice stays on his feet and carries the defensive lineman five yards down the field, refusing to go down. He even withstands two safeties working down to help secure the tackle before the defensive lineman manages to bring him down by his legs.

While there is concern about the potential for further injuries down the road given the nature of his running style, Guice is an extremely talented back who should be considered by the Redskins — even as early as 13th overall, but certainly with their second-round pick if he’s still on the board then. His power and explosiveness would give the Redskins a legitimate threat at running back that they’ve lacked since Gruden was hired, and it would take the pressure off the passing game.

More from The Post:

Derwin James wouldn’t fill a need for Redskins, but he’d be a tempting pick at No. 13

NFL draft analysis is a cottage industry — and everyone wants to join the neighborhood

Injury put Nick Chubb under the radar, but he could be a gem in the NFL draft

Redskins need a running back — and this NFL draft offers plenty of options

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