Gone are the days of running back being unworthy of first-round consideration. The last three NFL drafts have proven as much.
Five running backs have been drafted in the first half of the first round in the last three years, a number that seems small yet goes a long way in rewriting the narrative around the position.
Guice, who’s filling the void left behind by Leonard Fournette in LSU’s backfield, is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate and blue-chip NFL talent. NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread highlighted Guice as one of 11 players set to replace 2016 starters who ended up as draft picks last April.
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Due to Fournette’s injury issues, Guice ran for more yards than his predecessor did a year ago (1,387 to 843), so he wasn’t exactly a second-teamer. But this year, he’ll get his first chance to be a weekly starter. And if he’s healthy, he’ll be every bit as effective as Fournette. LSU coach Ed Orgeron had a whopper of a comp for Guice last year, describing him as a mix of Warren Sapp and Reggie Bush.
Guice certainly won’t take anyone by surprise this fall. He’s already a proven stud. His blend of straight-line speed, short-area quickness and tackle-breaking power is NFL-ready and he could challenge for top-10 consideration in next year’s draft when it’s all said and done.
One of the great debates this season will happen between the Barkley and Guice camps. They’re similar players who are both capable of being every-down NFL starters and it will be a challenge for evaluators to come to a confident conclusion about which one will have the better NFL career.
Barring injury, both should be locks for the first round in 2018. Guice, now playing outside the shadow of Fournette, could have a truly special season in the SEC.