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Redskins Will Have Plenty Of Options At Running Back In The Draft

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The Redskins have made it clear they'd like to add a running back into the group this offseason, and NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah believes they will have plenty of strong options in this year's draft.

As posited by NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, each NFL Combine has its own flavor, its different strengths based on the crop of defensive and offensive players. But the last few years have challenged that belief thanks to a consistent crop of running backs, which have made immediate impacts on their teams and begun to reverse the idea that they aren't first-round draft pick material.

A simple scan of recent prospects taken in the first round – Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey – over the last few years confirms the trend has roots and that the running back position continues to boast depth. This is good news for the Redskins, which have a need for one of this year's touted backfield threats and could be in a position to grab one early.

Washington can cross off the possibility of Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, who is being considered by the Browns with the first overall pick. But it might have an opportunity, selecting at No. 13, to get a similarly explosive back in LSU's Derrius Guice. He eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing in each of the last two seasons and added 124 receiving yards to pair with 11 touchdowns in 2017.

He's an intriguing player primarily because the Redskins don't have a prototypical three-down back. Chris Thompson, and last year's fill-ins Kapri Bibbs and Byron Marshall, were useful and often game-changing third-down backs while Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine proved to be the workhorses of the ground game on first and second down. Guice might be someone available throughout an entire drive.

"He fits the mold," Jeremiah said. "He can do everything you want to do. He's got enough size to run with power inside, he's got the speed to get outside and hit a homerun and then he can catch the ball out of the backfield a little bit if you want him to do that, although that's still a little bit of a work in progress for him."

His furious running style has compared him to Marshawn Lynch. At 5-foot-10, 224 pounds, he ran a 4.49 40-yard dash at last week's NFL Combine and did 15 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press.

"I see angriness, I see somebody who refuses to go down," Guice said. "When I run, I think about [Marshawn] every time. And when I go back and watch him, 'Man, I really run like this dude.' It's crazy." 

Other strong running back options for the Redskins, if they choose to draft defense first, will still be available in the second round.

San Diego State's Rashaad Penny, the nation's leading rusher last year with 2,248 yards while scoring 23 touchdowns offer a little more versatility. The 5-foot-11, 220-pounder said he met with the Redskins at the Combine but said he separates himself from other running backs based on his special teams play, thanks to his time as a returner.

"I think that's the most important part of the game," Penny said. "If offense and defense isn't going so well, then you can rely on special teams. I don't think people know how important and how big of a play special teams makes on a game. So I think that's the most important part."

Jeremiah believes that trait gives him a little more security in teams drafting him.

"You always want to have a floor for a player and so when I look at a guy like Penny, the floor for him is easier kickoff returner day one, and he can be a Pro Bowl player at that position," Jeremiah said. "So, that's where the floor starts, means you're not going to miss on the guy even if it doesn't work out at the running back position, you know he has a role on your football team, he's going to dress on Sunday's and contribute, so that's a good place to start with him. But then, to me, just looking at his skillset and everything he can do. I don't think it'll be long before you say 'Eh, we don't want him returning kicks anymore, we want him in lineup at the backfield.'"

Then there is the pair of Georgia running backs in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, each of whom has his own running style and explosiveness. Despite Chubb running slightly faster than Michel in the 40-yard dash, Michel might fit the team's needs better – he's someone that can pass block and make plays in the flat receiving the ball.

Michel said that the competition with his teammate brought the best out of him and that in his meetings with multiple teams, he's been himself. As stated by Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams, and reiterated by head coach Jay Gruden, brining another running back into the mix is something the team would like to do.

"We have to have stability at running back," Gruden said. "We have got to get Chris Thompson back healthy and then we obviously have to get some running backs in here that can play 16 games somehow. But we feel good about the depth with Byron Marshall coming in here late, Kapri Bibbs doing what he did, with Rob Kelley coming back off his injury, Samaje Perine getting quality reps. We have got some backs in-house that we feel good about, but we might need to add another piece to come in here and compete for that job."

The Redskins are hoping they'll have numerous options to find one.

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