(This is part of a series -- Finding the Fits -- in which NFLDraftScout.com will review the more intriguing picks made during the 2018 NFL Draft. The goal is to identify one relatively unheralded player per team who appears to be a good schematic fit and, therefore, more likely to be a surprise contributor early in his pro career).
Washington's best fit: RB Derrius Guice, LSU, No. 59 overall (second round)
The Washington Redskins ranked 28th in the NFL last season in total rushing yards (1,448) and tied for 31st in yards per carry (3.6), so it was hardly a surprise when the club made improving the talent at the position a top priority in the 2018 draft.
It was, however, quite the surprise that Washington found LSU running back Derrius Guice still on the board at No. 59 overall.
The Redskins were heavily linked to Guice throughout the pre-draft process with some close to the team even suggesting Washington might consider him with its first pick, No. 13 overall.
The 5-foot-11, 224-pound Guice was viewed as a consensus first-round talent, ranking behind only No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley on NFLDraftScout.com's board at running back. Guice left LSU with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and a spot on the All-SEC team after both his sophomore and junior campaigns despite sharing the workload.
Like his predecessor, Leonard Fournette, Guice was criticized by some for just average production as a receiver (32 catches over his LSU career) but this was more a function of a run-heavy offense than a limitation to either back's all-around game.
While complementing (and, at times, overshadowing) Fournette, Guice developed a reputation as one of the fiercest and most competitive runners in the country, earning comparisons from many (including this analyst) to longtime standout NFL runner, Marshawn Lynch due to his toughness, power and balance through contact.
Unfortunately, also like Lynch, Guice comes with questions as to how well his body will hold up in the NFL, as well as concerns about his personality and maturity. According to various sources for clubs that considered (and in some cases, selected running backs early), Guice's slip from potential top 15 pick to outside of the top 50 primarily came down to these factors.
Much has been made of a reported "altercation" between Guice and representatives of the Philadelphia Eagles at the Combine. Philadelphia general manager Howie Roseman, Guice and multiple others have since publicly denied any such confrontation occurred. Rumors of much more serious improprieties also circulated among teams on Day One and Two of the draft, including one that claimed the infamous news website TMZ would be releasing a damaging story on Guice once he was drafted.
At least to this point, no TMZ bombshell story on Guice has been released, perhaps sparing Washington of criticism for ending his dramatic fall at No. 59.
Assuming that team president Bruce Allen and head coach Jay Gruden knew of the reports, the Redskins clearly felt that Guice's potential was worth whatever problems he may have.
To his credit, rather than focus on the drama that led to his fall, Guice is focusing on the positives in Washington.
"No one wants to hear their name be slandered like that," Guice said, repeating that he didn't know where the reports originated.
"(The Redskins) didn't just go off rumors, they didn't just hear everything and believe it because they met me. They know me as a person, so they already know who I am as a person. Just to see a team not let rumors and stuff like that affect their decision to bring me in, I have to give my all to these guys. They changed my life, they believed in me, they trusted me."
Though the Redskins already have two young, starting-caliber backs in Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine (among others), Guice -- the most prototypically-built and versatile of the bunch -- is expected to compete for the starting running back role immediately. With veteran quarterback Alex Smith and a flashy pass-catcher corps, Guice could theoretically enjoy the type of flashy first year that could earn him Rookie of the Year consideration and push the Redskins back into playoff contention.
Other thoughts on the Redskins' 2018 draft class:
Washington's problems with the running game was not limited to its offense. In fact, the Redskins allowed an NFL-worst 134.1 yards per game to opposing rushers last season, a real problem considering that division rival Dallas did not have Ezekiel Elliott all year long and that the New York Giants made a huge upgrade at the position with Barkley.
As such, if the selection of Guice in the second round made sense, drafting a powerful and passionate run-stuffer like former Alabama superstar Da'Ron Payne at No. 13 overall was downright predictable. Re-paired with former Alabama teammate Jonathan Allen (Washington's top pick last year), Payne should have the Redskins inflicting much more of it on enemy runners this fall.
One of the real knocks on the 2018 draft class was the lack of plug-and-play offensive tackles. This year's crop did offer some intriguing developmental prospects, however, like the Redskins' third-round pick Geron Christian, who was overshadowed by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson at Louisville but may actually wind up starting in the NFL before his former teammate.
The 6-5, 302 pound Christian possesses legitimate quickness and balance to remain at tackle in the NFL, doing a nice job of protecting Jackson's blindside the past three years with the Cardinals. Christian's agility and remarkable length (35-inch arms) fits in Washington's offense, which is expected to feature more designed rollouts and bootlegs to take advantage of Smith's better overall athleticism than predecessor Kirk Cousins.
In some ways, Christian's development could mimic what we saw a year ago in 2017 sixth-round pick Chase Roullier, who was pushed into the starting lineup for seven games last season (playing in 13) and looks like a future building block for this front.
Finally, do not sleep on Washington's final pick, wide receiver Trey Quinn, an LSU transfer who dominated competition opposite Courtland Sutton at Southern Methodist this past season. The 5-11, 203-pound Quinn is not a speedster -- clocking in at a relatively pedestrian 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash -- but he is a savvy route-runner with soft hands and the toughness to excel out of the slot.
Washington's 2018 draft class:
1st Round, No. 13 overall: DT Da'Ron Payne, Alabama
2nd Round, No. 59 overall: RB Derrius Guice, LSU
3rd Round, No. 74 overall: OT Geron Christian, Louisville
4th Round, No. 109 overall: S Troy Apke, Penn State
5th Round, No. 163 overall: DT Tim Settle, Virginia Tech
6th Round, No. 197 overall: LB Shaun Dion Hamilton, Alabama
7th Round, No. 241 overall: DB Greg Stroman, Virginia Tech
7th Round, No. 256 overall: WR Trey Quinn, Southern Methodist
Key Undrafted Free Agents Signed:
Simmie Cobbs Jr., WR, Indiana
Danny Johnson, CB, Southern
Timon Parris, OT, Stony Brook