Guice’s draft slide ends with Redskins taking him 59th
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Derrius Guice heard the rumors and wondered why he kept slipping in the NFL draft.
Projected to be a first-round pick, Guice talked to his agents, watched six other running backs get drafted and came away with no more answers. The end of his freefall came Friday night when the Washington Redskins selected the LSU running back late in the second round with the 59th overall pick.
Guice was finally picked minutes after NFL Network reported some of his visits didn’t go well and there were incidents in college NFL teams found out about.
“It did surprise me because a lot of the things came out of nowhere and weren’t true, and I just didn’t understand why me out of all people because I’m great to everybody. I have a great personality and I just didn’t understand why everything just hit so hard with me out of everybody,” Guice said on a conference call. “I’m just thankful to know that this whole process is over with, that an organization believed in me and trusted in me and I’m just ready to get to work.”
Guice denied reports he got into an argument with Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and assistant head coach Duce Staley during his pre-draft visit to the defending Super Bowl champions. Guice said he had no idea about NFL Network suggesting there was another story possibly coming that could be embarrassing to him and the organization.
“My trip to the Eagles was great,” Guice said. “There wasn’t an altercation when I went. It was great. They were also like family. Me and Duce have a great relationship.”
FM-97.5 in Philadelphia reported the argument. Former Eagles running back Brian Westbrook said Friday: “I think he got into a little bit of an argument with Howie, and quite possibly Deuce as well. I don’t know that they all saw eye-to-eye.”
Coach Jay Gruden described Guice as a “character” with a lot of energy but came out of those meetings satisfied there weren’t off-field character issues with the physical, 5-foot-11, 244-pound back. Eager to upgrade the fifth-worst rushing attack in the league, the Redskins met with Guice multiple times, took him after trading down and drafted Louisville offensive tackle Geron Christian with the 74th pick they acquired from San Francisco for No. 44.
“We looked at the reports and talked to Derrius’ agent and got a pretty good indication that we felt good about taking Derrius at that position,” Gruden said. “Lucky to get him. This is a hard-nosed runner, plays hard, he can catch the football, he can pass protect, he’s got good vision and a guy we really liked in early rounds.”
Senior vice president of player personnel Doug Williams promised recently acquired quarterback Alex Smith he’d solve the team’s running back problem. Guice joins a crowded backfield that also includes 2017 fourth-round pick Samaje Perine, third-down back Chris Thompson and Rob Kelley, who earned the starting job out of training camp last year.
Detroit traded up to the 43rd pick, one ahead of the Redskins, and took another running back in Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson.
“I think there’s some things that some teams are worried about in terms of some things in his history,” Lions general manager Bob Quinn said, refusing to go into specifics. “There were some things. We met with Derrius. He’s a good kid. There’s some things that we were just a little concerned about.”
Guice said falling in the draft will only increase his motivation.
“It’s just a feeling that I have inside of me that I’ve already ran with since being little, and I just feel like it’s gotten 10 times worse now,” Gucie said. “I can’t wait to be unleashed on the field.”
On the field, Guice led all SEC running backs with 1,387 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns despite starting just six games and set the conference record with three career 250-yard games. He does have durability concerns, which combined with the reports of off-field problems likely contributed to him not being drafted higher.
“I’ve been talking to (my agents) the whole time either and this is all news to them as well,” Guice said. “It’s all hitting them and me off guard and out of nowhere and we just don’t know where it’s coming from our how it happened. It just kind of happened.”
It was a tumultuous offseason for Guice, who changed agents and told SiriusXM Satellite Radio that at the combine one team asked him if he was gay and another asked if his mother “sells herself.” The NFL conducted an investigation and found no evidence that any team asked Guice inappropriate questions.
This is the highest pick the Redskins have used on a running back since Ledell Betts in 2002. They recouped the third-round pick traded to Kansas City for Smith when they acquired the 59th and 74th picks from San Francisco.
“We felt the trade was needed,” Gruden said. “We thought we could add a third-round pick, which was very critical for us.”
Gruden expects to keep Christian at tackle, opening up the possibility that Ty Nsekhe moves to left guard, where Washington has an opening.
AP Sports Writer Noah Trister in Allen Park, Michigan, contributed.