Guice a cautionary tale to remember, especially now

Rob Rang

The news was ugly Friday in Washington where running back Derrius Guice was arrested on charges of domestic battery, including a felony count of strangulation.

And while it is important to acknowledge that Guice - like all others in this country - should be viewed as innocent until proven guilty of the charges, they are horrific and, unfortunately, not likely to be surprising to some in the NFL.

Including, it appears, the front office in D.C., which elected to release the runner shortly after news broke of his arrest.

Guice, you may recall, was a star running back at LSU and thought to be a likely first round choice back in 2018.

Instead, in the days leading up to the draft off-field concerns began to surface with some teams telling me after the draft concluded that they’d removed him from their board altogether.

Washington ultimately selected Guice 59th overall, and even then the story for some wasn’t that the club may have landed a falling star but what led to his drop and would he and the team be able to put it past them.

Friday’s news appears to provide an emphatic answer.

The purpose of this article, however, is not to rehash Guice’s past or his former NFL employer but to use it as a cautionary tale for future drafts.

As we’ve reported, the 2021 NFL draft is scheduled for April 29-May 1 in Cleveland even as college football is battling with how to play safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Out of an abundance of caution due to the virus, many colleges have shut down their facilities to outsiders, including the NFL scouts who rely on the personal interviews of players, coaches, trainers and many, many others to get a feel for prospects off the field.

Those meetings, of course, often occur via text messages, phone calls and Zoom videos but those do not provide the same context as face to face conversations. 

Scouts - at least the good ones - are just as effective in reading body language when interviewing potential draft picks and those around them, as they are in identifying and evaluating the physical characteristics so important on the field. 

Therefore, with scouts’ ability to vet prospects limited by the health crisis, it is possible – even probable – that more mistakes will be made in the 2021 draft, at least for the teams who choose to roll the dice on players with character red flags.