Sunday, January 17, 2021

Why I’m incredibly excited about Derrius Guice

With the 59th pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins selected LSU standout running-back Derrius Guice. This is by far my favourite Redskins draft pick in recent memory.

My inaugural season of following the Redskins opened with a sensational trade to #2 overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. In this process, the Redskins sent their 2012, 2013 and 2014 first-round picks to the (then) St Louis Rams, along with an additional 2012 second-round pick. In return, the Redskins received the Rams’ second overall pick in the 2012 draft. This resulted in the subsequent selection of Baylor’s Heisman-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III.

The 2012/13 regular season turned me into a die-hard ‘Skins enthusiast. Griffin III played incredibly entertaining football, and with help from Alfred Morris’ sensational rushing record of  over 1600 yards, the Redskins reached a 10-6 record and finished first in the NFC East. In their first playoff appearance since 2007, they ultimately lost to the Seattle Seahawks. Despite this, the 2012 season seemed like a turning point for many frustrated Redskins fans.

What followed this season was, in short, far from perfect. The Redskins took only 7 wins over the next two years. The 2015 NFC East title led only to another one-and-done in the playoffs, followed by a peculiar record of 8-7-1 in the following season. The 2017 Redskins season resulted in an uninspiring 7-9 record, aptly ending with a contract dispute with quarterback Kirk Cousins.

On an especially depressing Wednesday morning, it was revealed that we traded a 2018 third-round pick plus our slot-cornerback Kendall Fuller to the Kansas City Chiefs for thirty-four year-old quarterback Alex Smith. This was not a happy morning for me. Fuller was one of the best slot-corners in the game. Alex Smith is thirty-four years old for heaven’s sake.

Derrius Guice is a stud

Derrius Guice
Derrius Guice new Redskins RB

My optimism was running dangerously low in the pre-draft process. I had become attuned to the horrible drafting strategy employed by the team in recent years. After all, this same organisation who traded everything but the stadium for RGIII all those years ago. Da’Ron Payne made a suitable first-round pick to help our awful run-defense in an uninspiring but necessary pick. Personally, I’m still sore at the Buccaneers taking my favourite prospect, Vita Vea.

NFL fans and draft analysts alike found the fact that LSU standout back Derrius Guice had fallen out of the first round surprising. He was almost universally seen as the most promising half-back prospect without the name Saquon Barkley.

Despite the usual apprehension shared by Redskins fans, the possibility of Guice to Washington seemed to be a match made in heaven. Ultimately, Guice fell to the Redskins at pick #27 of the second round. It was completely worth staying up until gone 3am British time to see the announcement of this pick.

The Guice pick was beneficial in a multitude of ways. Firstly, pick #27 was acquired in a trade with the Detroit Lions, in which the Redskins gained a new 3rd round pick. This essentially replaced the pick lost in the Alex Smith trade. Initially, I thought this trade would snatch Guice from the jaws of Washington. Detroit were another team in need of backfield support, however thankfully they opted in favour of Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson. In short, this was a typical draft-day trade success for the Redskins- they gain extra picks whilst still bagging their guy.

Secondly, it is my firm belief that Derrius Guice will rejuvenate this Redskins offense. Since Alfred Morris’ 1600 yard season in 2012, the ‘Skins have had little success on the ground. Ex-GM Scot McCloughan somehow still stands by Matt Jones to this day, despite his fumble dominated tenure in Washington.

The duo of Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley combined for uninspiring yards-per-carry figures, with neither backs being a clear number one in the backfield. Chris Thompson emerged last season as an electric runner-receiver, however may be more suited in a receiving-back role. Guice, however, completely changes this backfield.

Guice had seen limited action initially at LSU as he sat behind a certain Leonard Fournette. After Fournette switched to the NFL, however, Guice was able to dominate the backfield at the Tiger Stadium. He rushed for 1,251 yards over 237 carries, boasting an impressive 5.3 yards per carry. Guice also proved to be a weapon in the receiving game, adding 124 yards on 18 receptions- again posting an impressive average.

Guice has proven to be equally valuable off the field. His ‘off-field issues’ were a subject of speculation throughout the pre-draft process. Despite this, Guice has already made significant connections in Washington. He was present at the Washington Capitals’ Stanley Cup win, and has shown a positive attitude to the community. He even treated 50 fans to a screening of the new Avengers film. Honestly, what can you dislike about this guy?

His so-called ‘off-field issues’ essentially boil down to having a passion for the game Fortnite- a vice which I’m sure many other players are the victim of. Nevertheless, the actions of Derrius Guice both on and off the field only continue to excite the Redskins fanbase.

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