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NFL Draft

What Is Bryce Love’s Role In Washington Offense?

  • The Draft Network
  • August 22, 2020
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Anytime there is an unexpected roster change the fantasy football community turns that new situation on its head and finds literally any player on the roster, not on the roster, in the league, out of the league, on planet Earth or somewhere else in the solar system who might have a chance at seeing playing time due to the change.

The latest example of that is with the Washington Football Team.

Not only will Washington be changing its name this upcoming season, they will also be changing the look of their running back room, as Derrius Guice has been released from the team following charges of domestic violence brought against him. 

As for those left on the roster, the former MVP Adrian Peterson is likely going to get the majority of early-down work, as he has for the past two seasons while Guice has been sidelined with injury. But with Chris Thompson no longer on the depth chart, Washington has an opening for their go-to change-of-pace running back gig.

The name to watch out for there is Bryce Love.

Do you remember Love? You should. As a junior at Stanford, he recorded 2,118 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns (8.1 yards per carry!). Love finished second in the Heisman voting that year but surprisingly decided to return for another season. Unfortunately, Love was not able to repeat the incredible production he had the year before, partially due to an ankle injury he tried to play through all season. It all came to an even worse head when he tore his ACL in the final game of the season.

Love was drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft but did not see any action in his rookie year as he recovered from his ACL tear. Now that he’s back on his feet, word on the street is he’s really impressing the new coaching staff.

"He's looking good. He's another guy we're going to throw in the mix and see how he does," Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner said. "I've been pleased with him.

"He's responded well. He's embraced what we're asking him to do. He hasn't missed a beat."

Alright so let’s assume Love is healthy, what kind of role can we expect from him?

To answer that, let’s look at what production might be missing from last season.

As stated before, Peterson has taken a majority of the running back snaps for Washington over the past two seasons. Peterson’s 402 snaps accounted for 42.77% of the total offensive snaps. As for carries, the only other player close to Peterson’s 211 carries was Guice’s 42 carries, which were amassed around his injuries. Chris Thompson was next with 37.

Speaking of Thompson, he played the second-most snaps of any back at 310, 32.98%. His main role on the team was in the passing game, as his 58 targets were more than the rest of the running back room combined.

So with Peterson still there and Thompson gone, could Love be in line for a pass-catching role? If that were to be the case, it would be the first time in his career he would really be leaned on in that area. The most catches Love ever recorded in a single season at Stanford was 20 in his final year, and those 20 caches didn’t even go for a total of 100 yards.

However, our own Kyle Crabbs wrote in his scouting report of Love that just because he hasn’t been used heavily as a receiver doesn’t mean he could develop into a reliable one.

“Usage has been highly limited after a promising freshman season in 2015,” Crabbs said. “Has all the needed quickness to win out of the backfield in match-ups against linebackers, although will need a lot of reps to catch up for limited development in this area.

But in order to get on the field for most passing downs, you also have to be trusted to pass protect. Unfortunately, Crabbs’ report on Love wasn’t as kind in this area.

“[Love] is not physical enough in protection,” Crabbs said. “Will get pushed around by defenders looking to get into the face of the passer, Love simply lacks the anchor needed to drop down and hold his ground effectively. 3rd down reps would be better served as a receiver.”

Washington’s running back room is a crowded one, even without Guice. Peterson is the incumbent, third-round pick Antonio Gibson will be a versatile receiver/running back, veterans Peyton Barber and J.D. McKissic have experience as third-down backs. So Love will have his work cut out for him regardless.

However, only two of the players on the roster have a 2,000-yard season under their belt: Peterson and Love. The other players on the roster are fill-in guys for specialized roles and packages. Love should be that “next man in” after Peterson for regular running back duties, if he’s healthy.

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