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Jay Gruden: Guice more of an early-down 'banger'

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The Washington Redskins arguably pulled off a steal by grabbing Derrius Guice with the 59th-overall pick in last month's draft.

The 218-pound bulldozing runner out of LSU reminds scouts of Ezekiel Elliott on the ground, but can Guice develop into an every-down back?

"He has some improvement to do in the pass pro, without a doubt, and I think he'll be the first one to tell you," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said, per ESPN's John Keim. "That's something that sometimes in college, with only 20 hours of practice a week, some of the fundamentals as far as pass-blocking sometimes gets swept by."

Said Gruden: "He's more of a first-, second-down banger. But I've seen him at his pro day catch the football. He can catch the football fine, but really, our role for him is quite easy to see. It's first, second down."

Not exactly what fantasy football heads want to hear, but the earth will spin on without their consent.

Besides, those early-down duties are easier to define on paper with the presence of Chris Thompson, Washington's versatile, marvelous pass-catching back who led the team in receiving before breaking his right fibula in November.

In recent years, LSU has not leaned heavily on its backs as pass-catchers. Guice caught just 32 passes over three seasons. In the same amount of time, Leonard Fournette pulled down just 41 grabs, but the Jaguars back showed what he can do with 36 catches last season as a rookie.

Guice has maintained all along that he can do the same at the pro level, saying at the combine: "A lot of guys say I can't catch and stuff just because on film I don't really catch as much because we don't throw the ball. I feel like people shouldn't really speak on things they don't know much of."

Guice was brought to Washington to give the team what it sorely missed a year ago: A punishing, physical runner in the mold of Marshawn Lynch.

The Redskins will find out soon enough if that running ability comes packed with an ability to pester defenses through the air.

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