Redskins.com’s Stephen Czarda answers YOUR questions submitted on Twitter about draft prospects as the Redskins prepare for the 2018 NFL Draft later this month.
*Chris Loller asks: #HailMail is there any chance that the Redskins consider Guice at 13 i feel like huge drop off after him *The easy answer to this is yes, the Redskins are considering the idea of selectin g Derrius Guice, just as they are all of the top prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft.
During an appearance on “Cooley and Kevin” with The Team 980 this week, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said the team will look at a position of need initially when selecting a draft pick before then determining the best fit at that positon for the Redskins.
“If there aren't any or if there’s a lot of them or you might be able to get one in the second round, then maybe you go to best player available but I think it works hand-in-hand,” Gruden said. “You’d be an idiot if you have a major need on your team to ignore that need and go take the best player, if there’s a good one at that position. But you’d also be an idiot to just take a player at that position of need when there’s way better players available. So it goes hand-in-hand. You have to look at need, and hopefully our biggest need is the best player, that’s our intent.”
But to dig a little deep the question is whether or not Washington wants to pull the trigger on drafting a running back in the first round of the draft, which is where Guice is expected to go.
Both Gruden and Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams have spoken about the importance of getting another running back into the room to join the likes of Samaje Perine, Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson.
“I think a first-second down banger -- we have Samaje and Rob Kelley, maybe another one in there to compete in that role on second down and maybe an all-purpose guy would be nice,” Gruden said at the NFL Combine. “Returner? I don’t know, there are a lot of options. But whoever it is, we intend on giving them a great opportunity to compete for a lot of carries.”
Last season, the Redskins struggled to have a consistent ground game, a lot of which was due to injuries to both Kelley and Thompson. In total, the Redskins finished 28th in rushing yards per content at a shade about 90.
Washington’s average yards per carry (3.6) was also tied for 29th in the NFL ahead of only the Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions. And the Redskins’ running backs combined for just six rushing touchdowns.
Now, if the Redskins were to select Guice or another running back in the first round of the draft, it would mark the first time Washington has done so since 1967.
Guice is consider the second-best running back in a loaded class this year behind only Penn State’s Saqoun Barkley, an expected top-five pick.
In three seasons at LSU, the Baton Rouge, La., native rushed for more than 3,000 yards and 29 touchdowns along with 32 receptions for 350 yards and three receiving touchdowns. He rushed for at least 1,250 yards in his last two seasons before entering the NFL Draft.
At the Combine, the 5-foot-10, 212 pounder tallied a 4.49-second 40-yard dash.
According to his NFL.com draft profile, Guice should become an instant starter who could pan out similarly to five-time Pro Bowler Marshawn Lynch.
Former Redskins running back Clinton Portis, who has been keeping tabs on the running backs in the year’s draft, believes Guice would give Washington’s offense a back capable of picking up tough yards.
This guy is fast, he’s a hard-nosed runner and he plays with a lot of passion,” Portis said. “When you look at 2nd-and-short, 3rd-and-short, this is the type of running back you need. Shoulders squared, a guy who’s going to pick that up and run hard.”
*@Mr_KOOL88 asks: #hailmail besides drafting Guice in the first do you think we have a chance to get Derwin James if anything and what about Lamar Jackson in the later rounds to back up Alex *The first part of your question about Guice and Derwin James falls in a similar category to the response before. It’ll come down to whether or not James is on the board and whether or not Washington wants to go with a safety with its first pick.
In the mock drafts Redskins.com has been tracking (you can check them all out here), James has been one of the most linked named to Washington along with defensive lineman Vita Vea.
As for the question about selecting Lamar Jackson or another quarterback in the later rounds, it’s something Gruden has talked about this offseason and something we highlighted in a previous #HailMail a couple weeks ago. The Redskins wanted to carry three quarterbacks on the roster last year but waived Nate Sudfeld during the cutdown to 53 players.
Sudfeld ultimately signed with the Philadelphia Eagles while the Redskins had a few practice squad quarterbacks come to town, but injuries prevented Washington from keeping a third quarterback on the roster.
Gruden talked about the process of evaluating quarterbacks this week, noting that being a former quarterback himself helps with scouting talent.
“I have to look at production, No. 1,” Gruden said. “I like to see how he’s played over the years, how much has he played, and if he’s only played as a senior, then why didn’t he play as a junior, how good was the guy in front of him. …Then I look for situational awareness. I look for accuracy, I look for ball placement. Obviously I look for how he handles heat. Pressure is very, very important. What does he look at when the pressure’s coming? Does he look at the rush, does he keep his eyes downfield, can he escape, can he ever so slightly move to this right and left to stay at a throwing position to get the ball out or does he have to scramble and spin around and do 360 pirouettes to try and get away from the rush.
“I like looking at accuracy under pressure. Situations. Wins-losses. All that good stuff. Throw on the move.”
Like Gruden, Jackson, of course, played at Louisville and won the Heisman Trophy in 2016 as a sophomore. In his three seasons at Louisville, Jackson threw for more than 9,000 yards with 69 touchdowns to 27 interceptions.
But what made Jackson so special was his ability to make plays with his legs, rushing for 4,132 yards with 50 touchdowns.
Jackson is projected to go at some point in the first two rounds of the draft. That may be too high for Washington to pick a player that would back up Alex Smith, but the Redskins will keep all options open.