It’s no secret that the Seattle Seahawks and head coach Pete Carroll are looking to add to the running back position this offseason. Carroll mentioned it in his end of season press conference, and again said so during the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. The free agent class of RBs isn’t particularly strong this year, with only a handful of running backs who fit Seattle’s mold at the position: A group headlined by Carlos Hyde, followed by players such as Isaiah Crowell, Chris Ivory and Doug Martin. Luckily for the Seahawks, the RB class in this year’s draft is quite strong. Saquon Barkley is rightfully the most talked about, but there are backs to be found all the way into day three who could be solid contributors in 2018. Former LSU star running back, Derrius Guice, is the second back on a good number of draft boards, and could be a realistic option for Seattle with their first selection.
Guice surprised a lot of people by weighing in at a solid 224 pounds, after being listed by the Tigers at below 215 pounds. Running backs generally need to be in the 210-230 pound range to survive as an every-down runner in the NFL, and Guice bulked up accordingly. He didn’t lose the explosiveness he consistently displayed at LSU as a result, running a 4.49 40-yard dash and jumping 31.5 inches in the vertical jump. Guice didn’t participate in the broad jump — to me, that says he was focused on putting on good weight in the lead up the combine and didn’t want to risk a poor performance in a drill he didn’t adequately prepare for. Taking part in the vertical jump was likely a mistake in that regard, and I think a better number in the vertical jump - as well as a good broad jump - can be expected from Guice at LSU’s pro day.
In terms of athletic ability, there is a lot to like from Guice during his time with the Tigers. He runs with a wide base, a split-legged runner similar to Marshawn Lynch or Jay Ajayi. It makes him incredibly difficult to bring down in tight spaces, and he regularly gets to the defense’s second level as a result.
wide striders make me (A) miss Marshawn Lynch and (B) Wonder where Seattle was in Jay Ajayi trade talks pic.twitter.com/fhRKZ6npVM— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 2, 2018
Another benefit of Guice’s running style - and solid frame - is his balance. Much like Lynch during his time with the Seahawks, defenders aiming high or towards the mid-section don’t impede his progress:
This is crazy balance to keep his feet. I'd be gasping for air for a minimum of 20 minutes pic.twitter.com/wnLo675Kh9— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 2, 2018
Without having access to all-22 for college, it’s hard to make a proper judgement on a RB’s vision. However Guice’s decisive running style is an encouraging sign for both his vision and how he’ll translate to lining up behind the quarterback after running almost exclusively out of the shotgun in college. Instead of attempting to stretch outside runs to the perimeter when nothing is there, Guice plants his foot in the ground and gets upfield, consistently turning no gains into three or four yard gains.
Everytime a running back puts their foot in the ground and gets upfield, an angel gets its wings. pic.twitter.com/ncQlI4j8rD— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 2, 2018
Guice’s aggressive running style is exactly the type Carroll and John Schneider have targeted time and time again. He hunts defenders in the open field and drives his legs upon first contact just like a healthy Thomas Rawls or an in-his-prime Lynch:
I'm not advocating for taking a RB early, but Derrius Guice (who said today he models his game after Marshawn Lynch) is on the Seahawks spectrum pic.twitter.com/0kzHFYpgop— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 2, 2018
Too often running backs will get unfairly criticized for lack of production as receivers coming out of college, when it comes down to whether or not that was their role in their team’s offense. Guice is facing it, and Alex Collins faced similar criticisms. As long as the player can display a natural ability to catch the football - and aren’t fighting it - then it’s safe to think they’ll be a competent pass-catching back in the NFL.
As a pass blocker, Guice had a tendency to be slow to recognize blitz pickups, but he consistently displayed a willingness to pick up defenders and block, which is an encouraging sign entering the pros.
a lot has been made about Guice in the passing game (32 catches in 3 years) but all I'm looking for in a back like him:— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 2, 2018
is he fighting the ball?
can he catch it at odd angles?
Guice looks fine doing both, and nice after the catch. like Alex Collins coming out of Arkansas pic.twitter.com/ShwV51sVrL
Explosiveness, physicality and the ability to contribute in both the running and passing games is exactly the sort of traits Seattle has looked for in running backs previously. While Guice may not give the team the best value with their first selection, he’s a strong possibility, and would be a great fit as a Seahawk.