On paper the Redskins did not need to draft a running back, but football games don't get played on paper.
Washington selected Memphis running back Antonio Gibson in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft in April, and all that pick did was make an already crowded situation downright packed.
The Redskins already have Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice on the roster and signed J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber as free agents. Plus, the team drafted Bryce Love in 2019, and while he didn't play last year, he remains under team control. Still, the Redskins drafted Gibson, and a third-round pick with the explosive highlight reel of the former Memphis star means he is undoubtedly making the team and very likely taking snaps early in the season.
Unfortunately, injuries will play a role in this roster battle too.
Bryce Love has never played in the NFL and had additional surgery last fall. At least one other NFL team took Love off their draft board in 2019, sources told NBC Sports Washington, and there are real questions if he can be ready to go for training camp. Love was a star at Stanford and if he can get back on the field he can help Washington, but at this point it looks like a big if.
Guice has also dealt with significant injury in his two NFL seasons. He's played in just five games in two years, and when on the field he's great, he's just not on the field much. Will that be an issue for a new coach and a new coordinator that weren't invested in Guice as a draft pick? Probably not considering his talent, but this is a different regime.
What new Redskins offensive coordinator Scott Turner likes is running backs that can catch the ball out of the backfield, and McKissic and Gibson can definitely do that. Expect them to do it.
Before things get too far without mention Peterson will make this team. Washington picked up the team option on his contract in March, and that means Rivera made the decision along with Kyle Smith and Rob Rogers. Peterson is the most durable, and by far the most proven, running back on the roster. Barring something crazy, he's not going anywhere.
That leaves Barber, who the Redskins signed late in the free agency cycle. He's a typical first and second-down back that only missed one game in his first four seasons in Tampa. Beyond the durability and an ability to find the end zone, Barber's numbers aren't too exciting. He averaged 3.4 yards-per-carry in the last two seasons and has only gone over 4 yards-per-carry once, his rookie year in 2016 when he had just 55 carries.
Barber seems like insurance in case Guice or Peterson aren't ready for the season. Assuming that doesn't happen, Guice and Peterson are traditional running backs and Gibson and McKissic seem like more versatile options also on the roster. Love better get healthy, quick.
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