The Eagles running game was a force to be reckoned with last year. With that being said, there were a lot of moving pieces throughout the season. Between Sproles going down for a season-ending injury, Smallwood falling off and then losing his spot to the emerging Corey Clement and the addition of Jay Ajayi at the trade deadline. The only piece that stayed consistent all season was free agent signee LeGarrette Blount and now he is gone. With Ajayi on the final year of his contract and Sproles likely to be playing his final season, the Eagles could look to add a piece now in order to better prepare themselves for the future.
The first real showing of Derrius Guice was in 2016 when Leonard Fournette missed six of twelve games due to multiple injuries at LSU. While starting just six games that season, the backup running back was able to run for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns, leading the SEC. He also set a school record that year with a massive 285-yard performance against Texas A&M. He followed that up with a 1,251 yard, 11 touchdown season playing banged up, making him 2nd team All-SEC.
Guice was able to fill in at LSU when Fournette went down without missing a step. In his final season, he was very productive even though he was never 100% healthy until the Tiger’s last game. Running with a blend of power, speed and balance, when Guice gets going, it looks like 11 high school kids out there trying to bring him down. The former LSU Tiger is a one-cut runner that rarely gets caught in the backfield and always seems to gain the extra yard or more on contact. Guice is also a very willing and able pass protector.
There are some knocks on Guice though. While he is often able to gain extra yards through contact, in the open field he sometimes looks to “finish” the play rather than extend it by going around the defender. Keeping his pad level a little bit lower when taking contact is something he needs to improve on. He had an injury-riddled junior year and could possibly avoid some of that if he protects himself. While Guice looked like an adept pass-catcher at LSU, the opportunities were few and far between to really know if he can do it at an NFL level.
The Diagnosis: Every-Down Pro-Bowl Runningback
Guice is a violent runner with a craving for contact from the Marshawn Lynch school for running backs. If he lands on the right team with a good offensive line, he will make an immediate impact breaking off big chunks of yards at a time. The Eagles don’t NEED a running back right now, but if Guice is there at 32, they will have a hard time passing on him to prepare for the future. A 1-2 combo of Guice and Clement could be deadly for years to come.