Redskins

Redskins

With free agency in the rearview and the NFL Draft fast approaching, the NBC Sports Washington Redskins crew examines the entire roster by position group. Today: Running backs.

2020 RBs: Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice, J.D. McKissic, Peyton Barber, Bryce Love

Adrian Peterson -- 14-year pro - 7th overall pick by Minnesota in 2007, signed with Redskins in 2018

2019 stats: 211 carries | 898 rushing yards | 4.3 yards per carry | 17 receptions | 142 receiving yards | 5 total TDs

2019 recap: After inexplicably being a healthy scratch by former Redskins head coach Jay Gruden in Week 1, Peterson stepped right into the starting role in Week 2 and never looked back. Peterson went on to start the remaining 15 games for Washington, rushing for a team-high 898 yards and five touchdowns behind a constantly changing offensive line. Outside of rookie wideout Terry McLaurin, the 34-year-old Peterson was Washington's best offensive weapon a year ago.

2020 potential: Peterson turned 35 in March, so it wouldn't be wise for the Redskins to count on a third-straight 200-plus carry season from the running back. However, No. 26 has shown little signs of his age, and may still be Washington's most talented running back on the roster. The lone Redskins representative on the 2010s All-Decade team, Peterson will likely have a significant role with Washington in 2020, even if he's spelled more often than he has been in the past.

Derrius Guice -- 3rd-year pro - Redskins second-round pick in 2018

2019 stats: 42 carries | 245 rushing yards | 5.8 yards per rush | 7 receptions | 79 receiving yards | 3 total TDs

2019 recap: After missing the entire 2018 season with a torn ACL, Guice made his much anticipated NFL debut in Week 1. But the running back suffered a torn meniscus in the loss and missed the team's next eight games as a result. Guice returned for the Redskins Week 11 clash against the Jets, where he scored his first career NFL touchdown on a 45-yard screen pass. Against the Panthers in Week 13, Guice turned in his best game as a pro, rushing for 129 yards, two touchdowns and one nasty stiff arm. Just as Guice was starting to showcase his talent, he once again injured his knee in Week 14 against the Packers, an injury that ended his season.

 

2020 potential: Once again, everything comes down to health with Guice. In his first two seasons, he played in just five of a possible 32 games. With a new regime in charge and a coaching staff that has no previous ties to him, it's on Guice to prove himself. If he can stay healthy, the LSU product has shown he can be a very solid back in the NFL. New Redskins head coach Ron Rivera saw first-hand what Guice did to the Panthers last year. Should the third-year pro avoid injuries in 2020, he can have a significant role in the offense that likely features double-digit touches on a weekly basis. But of course, staying healthy is the No. 1 factor here.

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J.D. McKissic -- 5th-year pro, undrafted out of Arkansas State, played first three seasons in Seattle, signed with Detroit in 2019, signed with Washington in 2020

2019 stats: 38 carries | 205 rushing yards | 5.4 yards per carry | 34 receptions | 233 receiving yards | 1 TD

2019 recap: For the first time in his career, McKissic played in all 16 games for the Lions a year ago. A former wide receiver, McKissic was used as the team's primary pass-catching back, and saw an increased role once running back Kerryon Johnson injured himself midway through the season. McKissic led all Detroit running backs in receptions and receiving yards in 2019.

2020 potential: McKissic is expected to be Washington's primary pass-catching back in 2020, a similar role to what Chris Thompson excelled in for many years with the Redskins. During his introductory press conference, McKissic told reporters that he spoke to new offensive coordinator Scott Turner, who said he could be used in the passing game a similar way to how the Panthers used Christian McCaffrey a season ago. Of course, McKissic is nowhere near McCaffrey's level; very few running backs are, if any. But if McKissic is able to stay healthy, he could likely top his career-high in receptions (34) with the Redskins in 2020.

Peyton Barber -- 5th-year pro, undrafted out of Auburn, signed with Tampa Bay in 2016, signed with Washington in 2020

2019 stats: 154 carries | 470 rushing yards | 3.1 yards per carry | 16 receptions | 115 receiving yards | 7 total TDs

2019 recap: Coming off his best season in 2018, Barber saw his production significantly decline last year. While he had a career-high in rushing touchdowns, his 3.1 yards-per-carry mark was by far the lowest of his career. As a result, Barber lost his starting role to Ronald Jones II midway through the 2019 season. 

 

2020 potential: Barber's role with the Redskins seems the most difficult to figure out. At 5-foot-11, 225 lbs., he's a bigger back who prefers to run in between the tackles. With Peterson ahead of him on the depth chart and presumably Guice as well, carries will likely be hard to come by for Barber. Then again, injuries play a factor, and Barber has been durable throughout his career. He could see more playing time if those ahead of him can't stay healthy.

Bryce Love -- 2nd-year pro, Redskins fourth-round pick in 2019

2019 stats: N/A, missed the whole season due to injury

2019 recap: Love suffered a torn ACL during his final game at Stanford in December of 2018 and missed the entire 2019 season as a result.

2020 potential: Any contributions from Love at this point should be considered house money. This past fall, Love had another surgery to address stiffness in his previously injured knee. If Love has recovered by now, the Redskins were expected to get their first look at Love during the offseason program this spring. Of course, that won't happen, as all offseason programs have since been turned virtual due to coronavirus concerns. Love remains a wild card, but faces tough competition if and when he returns.

Overall RB projection: Peterson once again is expected to be the lead back, but could see his carries decline, or even split if Guice is fully healthy. McKissic will likely handle most pass-catching downs, although Guice could potentially see snaps there, too. The Redskins will likely only carry four running backs on their Week 1 roster, meaning either Barber or Love will be the odd one out, unless a trade happens to any of the other running backs prior.

Overall RB grade: If everyone stays healthy, this could quietly be a productive group for the Redskins. But that's a big, big if. This group has the potential to be a B+, but as it stands now, they're nothing more than a B-. With all the uncertainties they have, the B- grade might even be a little generous, too.

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