While it was a banged up Leonard Fournette, Derrius Guice had a better 2016 season than the number four pick in the NFL Draft. However, an injury riddled 2017 saw a slight decline in play. That year still featured 1,251 yards and 11 touchdowns albeit with a drop off in yards per attempt from 7.6 to 5.3. He is likely going to end up in the first round. Given the Le’Veon Bell contract issues, if Guice falls down to the late 20s, could he be a target for the Pittsburgh Steelers?
School: LSU Tigers
As a runner, Guice features the best of vision, power, balance and elusiveness. He is very close to a total package at the position.
Everything Derrius Guice does starts with his vision. He can set up runs at the line, and into the second level because of his strong vision and instincts as a runner.
He is patient behind the line of scrimmage, he waits for holes to develop and he hits them hard with burst.
This reception shows how Guice can set plays up with his vision. He fakes 32 into crashing into the blocker, who pushed 32 into his own defender. A quick wiggle by Guice and he is free.
Guice lets the play develop and follows his blocks ahead for a third and one conversion.
Vision and patience helped him a lot at LSU. Being a run first team, Guice saw a lot of stacked boxes. Fournette used power to drag players for extra yards. Guice makes precise cuts and decisions.
That is not to say that Guice is not a power runner. Guice uses his vision to get into the second level, and finishes with power to pick up extra yards.
On the play below, Guice picks up about three yards after several Tennessee defenders crash into him.
Leonard Fournette is a lot bigger than Guice, but Guice uses balance to pick up extra yards with his lower body strength. He also uses that balance to pick up extra yards down the field, and turn out huge plays.Watch his ability to jump a defender, land in stride and continue to tip toe down the sideline.
When you combine the elusiveness with the vision, you have a player who can lead the league in rushing. Guice has that. Watch the ability to move in the open field so effortlessly as he evades defenders. It starts in the hips.
That, along with a hard plant can sell any defender. Combined with his vision he does a strong job of sucking defenders into the box and burning the defense as a whole to the outside. Only so many people can pull it off, but his total package can.
Of course, it all comes together with the threat to break any play at any given moment and change a game. His breakaway speed, combined with the balance and elusiveness to keep defenders missing, but keep his flow of motion is advanced. He breaks tackles effortlessly without losing stride.
The highlight and game defining plays were fewer and farther between in 2017 than 2016. He dealt with a leg injury for parts of the season and did miss a game because of it. That will be on the eyes of every evaluator as well as his combine performance to see what level he truly is on after a heavy workload.
There is also the question in the passing. The LSU passing offense has not been very advanced and the quarterback position is not one that the team invests much in. With that said, Derrius Guice has not necessarily gotten his opportunities in the passing game.
Derrius Guice is an adequate pass catcher from his limited tape. However, compared to a Saquon Barkley, who can run a variation of routes, he is a bit behind. This is a league that is shifting to a pass heavy nature. Guice is going to have to pick that aspect of the game up quick if he is going to want to be looked at as a three down player.
Pro Comparison: Young Frank Gore
Admittedly, this comparison was stolen, but when found, it was too perfect not to use.
Finished up LSU RB Derrius Guice–I'm sticking with my young Frank Gore comp. Runs low to the ground, power, lateral quickness etc…really good football player.
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) December 9, 2017
We all know Frank Gore of today, but back when he still had that second gear in the second level to break off huge plays, he was one of the elite running backs in the NFL. That is the place in the game where Derrius Guice can get.
He may be a bit undersized, but when he has that vision, balance and that punishers mentality, there is no stopping him behind the line of scrimmage, and he is always getting yards after the contact. That is the base. The elusivness and breakaway speed is what can make him an elite NFL running back.
Fit with the Pittsburgh Steelers
What makes this a less complicated question at this very moment in that the team will have some sort of status on Le’Veon Bell by then. Assuming that the team does not reach a long term deal with Bell before the franchise tag deadline, there is no chance that Bell will sign the franchise tag before the draft. It means the Steelers can draft a running back and rescind the tag, making Bell a free agent immediately. If Guice is on the table and Bell is unsigned, there will be debate in the Steelers front office. With Guice, they have five or more years of team control on a running back. With Bell, it is one year at almost twice as much money as any running back playing his position. That is a real decision. We will see if Bell makes it easier on the Steelers in the meantime.