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Scouting Jets running back Pete Guerriero

NFL: DEC 22 Steelers at Jets Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

At the end of the season, the Jets signed several players to futures contracts for the 2021 season. We’ve been taking an in-depth look at the strengths and weaknesses for each of them over the past few weeks, concluding today with running back Pete Guerriero.

The 22-year old is listed at 5’10” and 190 pounds and was undrafted out of Monmouth last year. Guerriero has yet to make his NFL debut but was the FCS Running Back of the Year and an all-American first teamer in 2019, as he rushed for 1,995 yards and scored 20 touchdowns.

Background

Guerriero originally went to Monmouth on a track scholarship in 2016, but decided to join the football team as a running back at the end of his first year there.

He made an immediate impact, rushing for over a thousand yards at six yards per carry in what was officially his redshirt freshman season. He was a second team all-American, the Big South co-Freshman of the Year and a first team all Big South selection.

In his second season he missed a few games but still had over 900 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. This time he was an all-Big South second team selection.

His redshirt junior year saw him start all 14 games and set a total of 64 team records as he racked up almost 2,000 yards, caught 32 passes and scored 20 touchdowns.

At the end of the season, Guerriero made the surprising decision to declare for the draft and then went unselected as the pre-draft process was affected by the pandemic and couldn’t get an undrafted free agent deal.

The Jets signed him and released him a couple of times in camp before releasing him in final cuts and then he ended up with the Panthers on their practice squad during the season. After his release from Carolina, the Jets picked him up and put him on their practice squad until the end of the season, then signed him to a futures deal on the day after the season finale.

Let’s move onto some more in-depth analysis of what Guerriero brings to the table, based on in-depth research and film study.

Measurables/Athleticism

As you can see, Guerriero has excellent speed, which led to him breaking away for multiple long touchdowns at Monmouth.

At his pro day, he backed this up with a solid 4.49 in the 40-yard dash, although his explosiveness and agility numbers were disappointing. He managed a solid 18 bench press reps.

On the track, he ran an impressive 10.65 in the 100 meters and 21.89 in the 200 meters, so he’s not likely to be run down from behind.

He is undersized though, although he was apparently closer to 160 when he first arrived at Monmouth and had bulked up to 196 by the time he worked out at his pro day.

Usage

Guerriero is mainly used as a conventional running back but he also brings some positional versatility, occasional lining up in the slot, out wide, going in motion or even lining up on the edge as an effective tight end in certain pass protection situations.

He also took some snaps as a wildcat quarterback, although the only pass he threw in college was intercepted.

Running ability

Speed is obviously Guerriero’s best attribute, but it’s not just his straight line speed - it’s how quickly he can accelerate. This enables him to freeze defenders and then run away from them, beating pursuit angles.

Some of his footwork is unconventional but effective. He has a really low center of gravity and will get low to the ground when making cuts as if he’s just going to fall forward, but then explodes as if he’s coming out of the blocks on the track.

At Monmouth, his ball security was good, as official statistics indicate he had no fumbles in his three seasons.

He isn’t a power back, but he does a good job of setting up defenders so they can’t get a clean hit on him and this enables him to fall forward at the end of a run.

Once he breaks into the open field, he can change direction quickly and slip tackles at the second level and downfield.

Short yardage

Although he scored a lot of long touchdowns, Guerriero obviously had some success near the goal line because he ended up with 38 career touchdowns.

He displays a good nose for the goal line and his speed into the hole can get him into the end zone if his linemen open up a lane for him. However, he doesn’t necessarily have the power to break the plane or get to the marker if he meets a defender in the hole or on the edge.

Pass catching

With 69 career catches, Guerriero has developed his skill-set as a pass catcher. While Monmouth did run a lot of screen passes, and to good effect, he brings more than just that to the table with some route running abilities.

Guerriero can also run routes when lined up in the slot or going in motion and even when they do run screen concepts with him, these often involve him lining up out wide.

Although he had a drop in the 2019 season opener, he displays good hands and does well to keep his feet inbounds on this downfield catch.

Blocking

Guerriero did need to stay in and pass protect regularly in college and it’s something he got better at following a rocky start.

Later on in his career, he showed a good understanding of where he needed to be and had improved at positioning himself with a solid base. However, at under 200 pounds, he might struggle to hold up as well against NFL blitzes.

Special Teams

Guerriero has some kickoff return experience and broke a school record 95 yard touchdown in his first season at Monmouth.

Other than that play he returned just five more kicks that season, averaging a solid 26.5 yards per return. However, he only had four returns for 71 yards after that first year.

His pass protection experience could make Guerriero a useful punt protector, although he runs so well he might even be a candidate to play as a gunner.

Instincts

Both as a return man and a runner, Guerriero does a good job of hitting running lanes at full speed, setting up his blocks and anticipating when to cut at the second level or out in space.

Scouting reports questioned whether he had the same level of vision between the tackles because he mostly ran outside at the college level, but he displays good vision on this touchdown run.

Attitude

Guerriero is driven and determined and is used to facing the kind of adversity he’s seen at the NFL level after having been released multiple times already. When he joined the football program at Monmouth he was viewed as a long-shot because he was so small.

He admits to never having been much of a vocal leader but went back to school to work out while he was looking for a job during the season and passed on some advice to the younger players.

Injuries

Guerriero doesn’t seem to have had any serious injury issues in college, although he did miss a couple of games in 2018. Interestingly, when he ran his personal best of 10.65 in the 100 meters, he did so with an injured hamstring.

Scheme Fit

Guerriero, who is obviously better equipped to be in a scat back role than a workhorse option, is a good fit for an outside zone system. This fits in with what the Jets did last season and they should do more, not less, of that with the coaching staff they’ve brought in.

Conclusions

Some of Guerriero’s film is impressive, but he was playing at a lower level, so he still has to prove he can do well at the NFL level. It will be interesting to see how he fares if he can stick with the team to preseason.

Running back is one position that is wide open right now with Le’Veon Bell gone and Frank Gore out of contract and expected to retire. Ty Johnson and Josh Adams both had some good moments last year and La’Mical Perine is obviously considered to have some potential but it looks likely the Jets might bring someone in via free agency or the draft to compete.

Guerriero should fit in with what the Jets will seek to do on offense next year and could be a special teams contributor, but he’s going to have a few players ahead of him so he may need to rely on injuries to get enough of a chance to prove he deserves a roster spot.