Other teams obviously had their concerns about LSU running back Derrius Guice, but the Washington Redskins weren’t one of them.
Guice was this year’s mysterious slider in the NFL draft. There’s usually at least one player who tumbles, sending everyone to speculate why. And there was a ton of speculation on social media about why, and most of it hasn’t been substantiated. A strange back-and-forth between the NFL and Guice about him being asked inappropriate questions at the combine, something the NFL says didn’t happen, couldn’t have helped. Whatever the reason, the Redskins were happy to end Guice’s fall with the 59th pick. Guice was long considered the second-best running back in the class behind uber-prospect Saquon Barkley, and it seems like the Redskins got a steal if Guice is able to prove that claims of his immaturity and whatever else are wrong.
Redskins senior vice president of player personnel Doug Williams said he knew Guice’s background well, and he had no issue with him. It didn’t sound like the team as a whole did either.
“We were fortunate,” Williams said in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio. “I can honestly say we really had Guice up there on our board, and [Friday] we were sweating bullets. We moved back to pick up a third-round [pick], which we were fortunate enough to do and get the tackle, and we were hoping and praying he would still be there and the good lord looked out for us. No way in the world we were going to pass him up the second time.”
Williams said in a different news conference that the Redskins had a first-round grade on Guice (h/t to Kimberley Martin of the Washington Post). Cynically, if the Redskins really loved Guice, they wouldn’t have traded out of their original second-round spot. But as Williams said, that extra third-round pick they added in the trade with the 49ers ended up being Louisville offensive tackle Geron Christian, a solid player who fits a need.
Williams’ connection to Guice, through both growing up in Louisiana, might have helped Washington get a unique grasp of what Guice is all about.
“I know more about him than a lot of folks have known about him, and when you think about this kid, where he came from, and to be in the position he’s in, you’ve got to applaud the kid,” Williams told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “Sometimes people misunderstand a kid that comes out of where he comes out of. There’s an area in Baton Rouge, they call ‘The Bottom.’ Very few young men come out of ‘The Bottom.’
“For this kid, who doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, hasn’t been arrested, no failed drug test – he’s a happy-go-lucky kid. Him and I talked the other day and I told him the most important thing he has to do now to understand that his world has just changed. It’s all about business. I don’t think he’s going to have a problem with that. I think we were fortunate enough to draft a defensive tackle in [Da’Ron] Payne we so dearly needed, and then to come back and get a running back we need? I think our first two picks really, really solidified us this weekend.”
Not every gamble on a player who slips for off-field concerns will work out. For every Warren Sapp, there’s a Johnny Manziel. But on the field, Guice has few concerns. He’s a physical runner who should be Washington’s starter from Day 1 if he heeds Williams’ advice about treating the NFL like a business. The Redskins don’t seem to be worried about it.
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