Next up in our Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft profile series is the head turning running back out of LSU, Derrius Guice.
Derrius Guice is one of the best running backs in the upcoming draft class and somehow his draft status is a bug question. Where do teams value a back of Guice’s skills? In the teens? Twenties? Slipping all the way to the second round? There’s no consensus the way there is with Saquon Barkley and it could help out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come draft weekend.
An immediate impact guy, Guice is gaining more and more steam by the day – and not just within Buccaneers fandom, but across the league. Guice was impressive during his tenure as a Tiger and was just as equally as impressive at the combine.
Guice’s College Career
Guice lived in the shadow of teammate Leonard Fournette, but was far more productive than people tend to believe. In his three year career, Guice rushed 471 times for 3,074 yards – 6.5 yards per carry – and 29 touchdowns. He also finished with 32 receptions, eighteen of which were in 2017, for 250 yards and three touchdowns.
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During the 2016 season, Guice actually finished at the Tigers’ leading rusher over Fournette, gaining 544 more yards and seven more touchdowns than the first round pick. At the combine, Guice ran a 4.49 40-yard dash showing he has some straight line speed.
Guice isn’t afrIaid of contact. At all. He fights for each and every yard he gains. If it’s a short yardage situation, there is little to no doubt that he will be able to pick up the first down or punch it into the end zone. I watched him move a pile of five defenders for a four yard gain against Tennessee when he should have been dropped for a loss.
In the open field, Guice is dangerous. He isn’t a full-fledged breakaway speed club member, but he can make guys miss well enough to turn a six or seven yard gain into a 50-yard touchdown. Guice is going to fight tooth and nail for every inch he gains and his ability to run up the middle plays into what is now the strength of the Buccaneers’ offensive line. Guice was able to make a lot of magic happen at LSU behind an offensive line that gave him little to nothing to work with.
Guice isn’t exactly a world beater when it comes to receiving out of the backfield. He gets little swing passes and dump-offs, but they usually don’t amount to much. That weakness in his game can continue to be developed, but it isn’t going to benefit a team that doesn’t already have that change of pace back that makes big plays catching the ball, like what Charles Sims was supposed to be.
As with many running back prospects, Guice also isn’t a very sound pass blocker. Picking up the intricacies of stopping a blitzing linebacker or member of the secondary is, again, something that can be learned but may cause some problems for the offense that uses him as the primary back until he can fine tune his technique.
Why the Buccaneers need Derrius Guice
It’s no secret the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in desperate need of a running back. Guice’s skills play perfectly into what the Bucs have done to overhaul their offensive line. Not only is Guice a tremendous between the tackles runner, but he would then impact the passing game through the threat of the play action. That was something sorely lacking for the Bucs with Doug Martin in the backfield and didn’t truly begin to be a factor until Peyton Barber took over the majority of the work.
Guice would allow the Bucs to get a top-tier running back prospect without having to use their seventh pick to do so. Being able to trade back and still get Guice or potentially trade up with their second round pick and a few other goodies – depending on how many spots they need to move – would allow the Bucs the opportunity to draft a player that would not only thrive in Koetter’s offense, but have the potential and raw talent to turn into a star in the NFL.
Will it happen?
At this point, it seems unlikely. The seventh pick is just too high and Guice won’t make it to their pick in the second round. That said, Guice is the ultimate trade back target. If a team wants to move up for a quarterback, the Buccaneers can slide back, gain picks, and get their feature back in the process. Again, the Buccaneers may not want to go running back in the first round with their needs on defense, but if they could find a way to get both of Buffalo’s first round picks in a trade for number seven, allowing them to draft secondary help and Guice both in the first?
Well, that’s the dream, Bucs fans.
Be sure to keep it locked here for more draft profiles from now all the way until the 2018 NFL draft.