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Closer look at why the Eagles passed twice on Derrius Guice

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Strange situation.

NFL: NFL Draft-Red Carpet Arrivals Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest mysteries of the 2018 NFL Draft is why Derrius Guice fell so much further than he was expected to be selected.

The LSU star didn’t hear his name called until the Washington Redskins picked him No. 59 overall, when five running backs had already gone off the board.

So, what gives?

And why did the Philadelphia Eagles pass on a prospect — not once, but twice — whom they showed so much interest in? Let’s examine.

Heading into this year’s draft, we had heard that the Eagles really liked Guice. Jon Ledyard of NDT Scouting told BGN Radio that Howie Roseman had a first round grade on the LSU runner but didn’t expect him to be at No. 32. Tony Pauline reported that Eagles running back Duce Staleyis a big supporter” of Guice.

It seemed, then, that there was a strong possibility of Guice being the pick at No. 32. But that obviously wasn’t the case. Philly traded out of the first round entirely.

At the time, this didn’t necessarily say as much about Guice as it did the Eagles felt like there were a number of similarly rated prospects on the board. And with Philadelphia really lacking picks, it would’ve been difficult to stay at No. 32.

But then it became clear to me the Eagles just weren’t really into Guice. Before Day 2 started on Friday night, I heard from someone that he wasn’t going to be the pick, even if he fell to No. 52.

Shortly after that, I saw this pop up on Twitter.

Another Twitter user claimed to hear the same thing, which prompted this story.

As Guice continued to fall in the second round, NFL insider Ian Rapoport shared some explanation as to why.

And that prompted Les Bowen to get into more details.

Here’s even more info:

This kind of reminds of the things I heard about Ezekiel Elliott’s pre-draft visit with Philly back in 2016. Apparently he totally bombed that. I wonder if the Eagles tried to push buttons with these prospects to see how they respond to things.

Anyway, back to the Guice timeline. After being passed over by the Eagles twice (No. 32 and No. 49), he eventually went off the board to Washington. Once he was drafted, both head coach Jay Gruden and Guice himself were asked about the rumored conflict with the Eagles. They both denied it.

Guice was asked whether that alleged incident occurred when he visited with the Eagles — and he denied it: “My trip to the Eagles was great. There wasn’t an altercation when I went. It was great. They were also like family. Me and Duce have a great relationship.”

Another interesting note from that Pro Football Weekly article containing Guice’s quote is this anecdote about how the Eagles actually called him when they were on the clock at No. 32.

As the New England Patriots were on the clock Thursday night, the phone rang at the table in the green room where LSU RB Derrius Guice and his assembled camp were sitting. This, they thought, was the call they were waiting for.

On the other end: the Philadelphia Eagles. It appeared that Guice’s wait might end and that he might be the final pick of the first round. This was the player they appeared poised to take at that spot.

The Eagles’ plans changed quickly. A trade offer came in and they moved back to pick up much-needed Day 2 picks, trading with the Baltimore Ravens in the dramatic move up to get Lamar Jackson.

So did the Eagles actually intend to pick Guice before getting that offer? Not everyone is so convinced.

Lawlor’s sentiment echoes what I heard before the second round started last night: the Eagles did not like him.

We’ll eventually see if the Eagles passing on Guice is a mistake. He’s a really talented running back that they’ll now have to face at least twice a year since he landed in the NFC East.

But know this: the Eagles did a ton of homework on this guy. In addition to formally meeting with him at the NFL Combine and bringing him to Philly for a pre-draft visit, they also met with him privately in Louisiana and even put him through a private workout.

Whether they made the right decision or not remains to be seen. What we do know for sure is that their decision was informed.

UPDATE: Eagles comment on the Guice situation.

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