The 2018 NFL Draft Prospect series breaks down draft-eligible players, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential. Daily fantasy players should know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. The draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, from April 26-28.

This piece is on Louisiana State running back Derrius Guice, who has declared early for the draft. For the total list of all players leaving school early, see our underclassmen tracker.

For more on all the other backs in the class, see our 2018 NFL draft running back rankings.

Updated as of Mar. 3.

Junior | 5’10″ and 224 Pounds | Born June 21, 1997 (Age: 20) | Projection: Round 1-2

Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.49 sec | bench reps: 15 | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: 31.5 in | broad: DNP

Although the NFL has shifted toward the pass over the last decade, and although no running backs were selected in the first round in 2013 and 2014, at least two backs could be drafted on Day 1 this year. Five runners have been drafted on Day 1 over the past three years. Three backs were drafted in the first round in each of 2009, 2010, and 2012. Five were first-rounders in 2008. This is a good year for running backs, and Guice has a strong chance to be the No. 2 back off the board behind Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, who will almost certainly be drafted within the first 10 picks of the first round. If a team wants a difference-making back on Day 1 and Barkley is unavailable, Guice could be the guy.

When he got to Baton Rouge in 2015, Guice was a five-star recruit and the nation’s No. 2 high school back. As a true freshman he played behind star running back Leonard Fournette, but as a sophomore he actually led LSU with 183 carries for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns, as Fournette (ankle) missed five games and struggled through much of the season with an injury. In his six 2016 games as the lead back, Guice averaged a strong 178.7 yards and 2.2 touchdowns from scrimmage. With Fournette’s early exit for the NFL, Guice in 2017 again led the backfield, rushing for 1,251 yards and 11 touchdowns and adding 18 receptions for 124 yards and two scores. While his production last year wasn’t as strong as it was the year prior, Guice (knee) played through injuries and missed a game, and LSU was still sixth overall in Rushing S&P+ and eighth in rushing success rate (per Football Study Hall).

Over the last decade, there have been nine big-bodied backs to enter the league as either first- or second-rounders and play as 21-year-old rookies (per Pro Football Reference). All of them (except for last year’s rookie) have had at least one NFL season with 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. Here are the nine backs and their best seasons.

  • Joe Mixon (2017, 2.48): 913 yards and four touchdowns from scrimmage
  • Ezekiel Elliott (2016, 1.04): 1,994 yards, 16 touchdowns
  • Todd Gurley (2015, 1.10): 2,093 yards, 19 touchdowns
  • Le’Veon Bell (2013, 2.48): 2,215 yards, 11 touchdowns
  • LeSean McCoy (2009, 2.53): 1,624 yards, 20 touchdowns
  • Beanie Wells (2009, 1.31): 1,099 yards, 10 touchdowns
  • Darren McFadden (2008,1.04): 1,664 yards, 10 touchdowns
  • Rashard Mendenhall (2008, 1.23): 1,440 yards, 13 touchdowns
  • Jonathan Stewart (2008, 1.13): 1,272 yards, 11 touchdowns

Guice will be drafted at the precocious age of 20 and will almost certainly be selected no later than the second round. Blessed with great size-adjusted athleticism, Guice has significant upside as a future NFL lead back. He’s not Barkley, but he’s still one of the best running back prospects of the past five years.

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Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.

Photo Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports