For the last three seasons of Rivera's tenure with the Carolina Panthers, he had that in former Christian McCaffrey. The former Stanford University standout has been a threat all over the field with 5,443 yards from scrimmage and 39 touchdowns. Last year, he became just the second player in NFL history to record 1,000 rushing and receiving yards, which earned him first-team All-Pro honors and a trip to the Pro Bowl.
Smith believes that former second-round pick Derrius Guice -- when healthy -- can thrive in a similar fashion.
"I do believe Derrius Guice has an opportunity," Smith told reporters last week during his introductory press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine. "He can do all of those things."
Smith has liked Guice dating back to the running back's days at LSU. Prior to his promotion to Director of College Personnel, he oversaw scouting efforts in the Southeast Region, which resulted in the Redskins selecting Guice with the 53rd pick in the 2017 draft.
The past two seasons have been frustrating for Guice, as he missed all of his rookie year with a torn ACL and suffered a torn meniscus and sprained MCL that forced him to sit out most of the 2019 season.
But in the five games that Guice was available, he showed why the team drafted him with such a high pick. He had 324 yards of total offense, including 245 yards on the ground, and averaged 5.8 yards per rushing attempt. He also exploded for 129 yards and two touchdowns against the Carolina Panthers.
"It's a spark," Adrian Peterson said on what Guice brings to the offense after the Panthers game. "I want him to be successful. That's what he needs coming off the last two years. I'm always rooting for him, and I want him to know, 'Hey, I'm in your corner, and we can do this together.'"
Guice led a Redskins offense that rushed for 248 yards in that Week 13 matchup. Peterson, who rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown, said he felt like he and Guice had found "the right recipe" to having a successful backfield.
Guice was injured again in the following game against the Green Bay Packers, but the sample size was enough for Smith to see that Guice still had the skills to be a valuable piece on offense.
"He's got hands. He's good in the pass protection game," Smith said. "You...know him as a runner."
Guice also showed off his ability as a pass-catcher out of the backfield with seven receptions for 79 yards. His first career touchdown was a 45-yard screen pass in the first game after he was taken off Injured Reserve against the New York Jets.
"I felt really proud of Derrius and everything he's had to overcome and all of the adversity he's had in his career," said rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins, whose throw to Guice doubled as his first-career touchdown pass. "That's my brother. For him to rely on me, for me to rely on him, and for us to make plays for each other, it meant a lot of for me."
Running backs coach Randy Jordan sees Guice as a player who has "every tool in the toolbox" and said on "The Rundown" that Guice's five games last season were like an appetizer at a restaurant. Now, he wants the main course.
"I want the lobster. I want the steak," Jordan said. "I want to enjoy it. That's what [he's] done for me and this whole Redskins Nation."
Rivera values players who can contribute in multiple roles. That’s the kind of player he was with the Chicago Bears, as teammates and coaches can attest to his proficiency at playing in all three linebacker spots in the Bears' 4-3 defense.
"That's an invaluable player," Rivera said at the combine. "That's the kind of player that you look for...is the guy that has position flexibility."
Jordan said Guice has "a good burst" and everything else teams look for in a quality running back. The only obstacle left for him to overcome is playing injury-free.
"I tell him this all the time: your best ability is your reliability and your availability. If [he] can do that, [he'll] be fine."
There haven't been many updates on Guice's recovery, but he did post a video of himself working out at the team's facility on Twitter. Smith also said he expects Guice to be "ready to go" when players report for offseason workouts in April.
Jordan believes Guice can provide "instant juice" to an offense. He'll have the chance to do that again under Rivera's leadership.
"Never a dull moment," Jordan said. "That's the thing I love about him. I would never try to change him."