As much as we’ve talked about the various reasons the Detroit Lions cannot field a quality run game, it’s impossible to ignore how much they need a game changing running back. Sure, Jim Caldwell and company would still need to scheme better and find ways to get them at least back to the line of scrimmage—if not, and I know this sounds crazy, but past it, too!—but the team currently lacks a running back who can take them to the next level offensively.
Saquon Barkley is considered the best back in the 2018 draft class, but even if the Lions lost all of their remaining games, the Penn State product would likely still be out of reach. Instead, they may look to the most commonly mocked player to the Detroit Lions, LSU’s Derrius Guice.
Weight: 212 pounds
Current Projection: Mid-to-late first round
Of the nearly 240 mock drafts we’ve tracked so far in 2018, Guice was the mocked to Detroit 29 times—the most of any prospect—which was more than 10% of the time. A native of Baton Rouge, Derrius Guice currently sits at 5th all-time for the Tigers in rushing yards. His prolific LSU career saw him set an SEC record with three games of 250 or more rushing yards, a feat that had never been accomplished before.
While playing behind Leonard Fournette, some wondered if it was Guice and not the height/weight/speed phenom Fournette who should have been receiving the lion’s share of carries in that backfield. An injury to Fournette finally gave Guice his chance to shine and he put up a very productive season despite sharing the backfield. His strong play continued through 2017, and while he is still considered a top prospect in 2018, he lost ground to Saquon Barkley throughout the year despite being described as “the best pure runner in this draft class.”
Like Fournette before him, Derrius Guice has played through what is likely his final season at LSU with an injury or two. He injured his knee earlier in the season, and played through that injury in addition to a possibly unrelated leg issue in 2017. Guice was also transported to the hospital for dehydration and low blood sugar in 2015.
If there were any area to be concerned about Derrius Guice, it’s this one. Like Dalvin Cook, Guice doesn’t appear to have much limitation in terms of athletic ability, but also like Cook, there’s a possibility of Guice measuring out well below expectations. Guice ran only a 4.61 coming out of high school, with a SPARQ of only 83.37—100 or better being the benchmark. That 40-time is mostly in line with what running backs of his size have measured in the past, so both his own history and history at large suggests he under-performs athletically. While most players improve their high school 40-time through college and before the combine, it’s certainly an area of concern.
2015 - 51 attempts, 436 yards, 8.5 YPC, 3 TD
5 receptions, 20 yards
2016 - 183 attempts, 1,387 yards, 7.6 YPC, 15 TDs
9 receptions, 106 yards, 1 TD
2017 (so far) - 216 attempts, 1,153 yards, 5.3 YPC, 11 TDs (So far)
15 receptions, 100 yards
Prior to Guice’s 2017 season he was phenomenal. He averaged over 7.5 YPC in each of the previous years. While his junior season has been alright, it’s fairly lackluster in comparison to what he was able to do in a tandem backfield. This dropoff in production is a big reason Guice isn’t considered a “1B” complement to Saquon Barkley anymore, and a reason other backs like Bryce Love and Ronald Jones have jumped into first-round consideration. Don’t overthink it too much, though, as even his ‘poor’ production in 2017 was very good, and if you can look at a season like this one and call it your worst in college, you’ve done pretty well for yourself.