clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Detroit Lions 2023 draft watch: 7 offensive skill players, including RB Jahmyr Gibbs

This Saturday’s Detroit Lions draft watch examines some of the team’s biggest projected offseason needs.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Jamar Coach/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

This Saturday’s NFL Draft watch list of college football (November 5) features two stellar must-watch games featuring four top-10 teams from the SEC. Instead of spreading out the viewing schedule, I decided to lean into the excitement and feature just offensive skill players from these two games.

If you missed any of our previous Detroit Lions draft watch installments, you can revisit them here:

QB Watch

  • Anthony Richardson (Florida) at Texas A&M at 12:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
  • Aidan O’Connell (Purdue) vs. Iowa at 12:00 p.m. ET on FS1
  • Hendon Hooker (Tennessee, 1) at Stetson Bennett (Georgia, 3) at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS
  • Cam Ward (Washington State) at Tanner McKee (Stanford) at 3:30 p.m. ET on Pac12 Network
  • Bryce Young (Alabama, 6) at Jayden Daniels (LSU, 10) at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN

I’ve recommended watching Richardson a few times this year, so if you’re looking for a new quarterback for the noon game while you wait for the SEC showdowns, O’Connell has a tough matchup against Iowa's defense. O’Connell isn’t in competition to be one of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft process, but he’s probably in the next level down and should be a reliable backup with upside in the NFL, at a minimum.

Alright, let’s get to this week’s non-quarterbacks that Lions fans should be paying attention to.

Tennessee (1) at Georgia (3) at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS

When the college football playoff committee released their first ranking this week, there was a bit of shocking news when they placed Tennessee No. 1 and dropped Georgia—who had been ranked No. 1 most of the year—to No. 3. You can bet there was some extra motivation in Athens this week as the Bulldogs look to prove the committee wrong.

Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia (Junior)
6-foot-7, 275 pounds

Washington possesses matchup-nightmare size in the passing game and is essentially a sixth offensive lineman on the field when blocking in the run game. He is one of three NFL tight ends on Georgia’s offense—and they use them all—so his stats aren’t going to blow you away, but his athleticism will.

Lions fit: I’m not sure if you heard but the Lions could be in the market for a tight end this offseason and Washington is amongst the biggest risers this year. All signs point to them prioritizing a tight end with blocking prowess and Washington fits the bill.

An excerpt from Draft Network’s Damian Parson’s profile of Washington:

“Darnell Washington is a physical specimen at the tight end position. His combination of height, weight, and speed make him a difficult player to defend. From a physical standpoint, Washington checks every box to be a quarterback’s best friend. He presents a huge target across the middle of the field to keep the chains moving. He poses a mismatch for defenses due to his size/athleticism combination. Washington can run past linebackers and box out safeties. He is a bona fide red zone threat for defenses to worry about. He’s also a reliable and willing in-line blocker in the running game. He works vertically and as a slice blocker on split-zone actions. “

Kenny McIntosh, RB, Georgia (senior)
6-foot-0, 207 pounds

Georgia rotates three running backs, McIntosh, along with juniors Daijun Edwards and Kendall Milton. McIntosh and Edwards get the bulk of the carries, and Edwards currently has the better statistics on the ground, but McIntosh has the more balanced skill set.

In the Bulldogs scheme, McIntosh plays the (Bills 2022 second-round pick) James Cook role as a rotational back who can be a mismatch in the passing game. As a receiver, McIntosh will likely be considered the best pass-catching running back in this draft class.

Lions fit: McIntosh is an ideal fit for a gap scheme with his patience and vision. He trusts that his offensive linemen will hit their blocks and he runs downhill through the gaps. McIntosh’s pass-catching is elite and he would give the Lions a rotational player with a Kenyon Drake-like skill set, that they won’t have to pay a high draft price for.

An excerpt from Draft Network’s Damian Parson’s profile of McIntosh:

“Kenny McIntosh offers the prototypical frame of an NFL running back. He runs with patience and discipline to follow his blockers to daylight. Once he identifies an open crease, he showcases enough burst to reach the second and third levels of the defense. I was surprised how gifted of a receiver he was out of the backfield. McIntosh showed flashes as a downfield threat in the passing game. His ball skills and tracking ability are more than adequate. He has over-the-shoulder and a few one-hand receptions on his resume. Once he breaks the first layer of the defense, McIntosh has good vertical cutting ability to evade near defenders.”

Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee (Junior)
6-foot-1, 185 pounds

With a few injuries at the position, Hyatt leveled up his game and has exploded onto the scene in recent weeks, highlighted by his 5 (!) touchdown performance against Alabama.

Lions fit: With DJ Chark and potentially Josh Reynolds’ futures with the Lions in doubt, the Lions may be looking for another developmental WR-Z (vertical threat) to pair with Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams.

An excerpt from The Athletic’s Dane Brugler’s midseason Top-50:

“A prospect who has emerged as a big-play weapon, Jalin Hyatt leads the FBS with 14 receiving touchdowns (11 of those scores have come over the last four games). He is raw in areas, especially as an underneath receiver, but his elite vertical speed and trust in his hands are two elements worth betting on for his long-term projection.”

Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee (senior)
6-foot-3, 214 pounds

Tillman injured his ankle early in the season, had surgery, and returned to the field on a snap count last week. That was supposed to be a tune-up game for his big appearance in this game.

Lions fit: If the Lions opt to keep Jameson Williams in the vertical role, they could be on the lookout for a possession WR-X.

An excerpt from The Athletic’s Dane Brugler’s list of players who just missed the top-50:

“Although an ankle injury has hampered his senior season, Cedric Tillman is back on the field and ready to show why he belongs in the top 50. A big, physical target at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, he won’t be bullied off his route and shows smooth body control in and out of his breaks. His catch radius and athleticism are why he could be the first senior receiver drafted.”

Alabama (6) at LSU (10) at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN

Brian “I now have a southern accent” Kelly has LSU rolling but Alabama is refocused after their loss to Tennessee and they want to prove they belong in the College Football Playoff.

Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama (junior)
5-foot-11, 200 pounds

Through the first month of the season, it almost felt like Alabama didn’t know what they had in the Georgia Tech transfer because he never saw double-digit carries in any of the first four games. Then the Arkansas game happened and he announced himself behind 206 rushing yards, including two 70+ yard touchdown runs.

Lions fit: An absolute burner. Gibbs is so explosive that he is often gearing down once he hits the red zone because he is so far away from the closest defender. He thrives in Alabama’s outside zone scheme, but his patience and explosion would work in unison with the Lions power gap concepts.

An excerpt from The Athletic’s Dane Brugler’s midseason Top-50:

Jahmyr Gibbs is an offensive line’s best friend as a running back. His keen understanding of football geometry allows him to press, set up blocks and hit the hole. Listed at only 200 pounds, he doesn’t have an ideal body type, but his full-speed cuts make him a nightmare for defenders in space.

Gibbs is also a dynamic pass catcher, which is why the “mini-Alvin Kamara” comparison fits.

Cameron Latu, TE, Alabama (senior)
6-foot-4, 244 pounds

Latu arrived at Alabama as an edge rusher but converted to tight end/H-back as a freshman. He worked his way up to the TE2 role on offense, and when Jahleel Billingsley (who has since transferred to Texas) faltered in 2021, Latu seized the opportunity and grabbed the starting job. He recorded eight touchdowns last year, setting a record for tight ends at Alabama.

Lions fit: The Lions love versatility and Latu brings that to the tight end position. He can lineup inline, in the backfield as a fullback/H-back, in the slot, and even split out wide—something they don’t have at the position on the current roster.

An excerpt from Draft Network’s Keith Sanchez’s profile of Latu:

“Cameron Latu emerged this past year as a well-rounded tight end for the Crimson Tide offense. At Alabama, they ask Latu to block and he proves to be effective most times in attempting to sustain his blocks. They will also align him at fullback and the H-back position and allow him to serve as the lead blocker on run plays. Latu is also an effective route-runner in how he manages to uncover on underneath routes. Latu seems to be a high-IQ player that understands zones and will find the vacant spots to get open.”

Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU (Junior)
6-foot-0, 205 pounds

Boutte burst onto the scene as a record-setting freshman, then followed it up with a terrific sophomore campaign, entering the season at the top of many pre-season draft rankings. Unfortunately, his junior campaign has been inconsistent and a sudden case of the drops (PFF credits him with six in his seven games played) has dropped his draft stock.

Here’s a crazy stat: His record-setting performance as a freshman saw Boutte record 308 receiving yards in a single game against Ole Miss. But, through seven games this season, he has just 288 yards receiving.

Lions fit: If Boutte struggles to finish out the year, teams could hesitate with him and his stock could slip to a point where he could become a value selection. There’s enough good tape out there to suggest he could end up being a much better player than he is currently showing.

An excerpt from The Athletic’s Dane Brugler’s midseason Top-50:

“His pliable body movements and acceleration make him dangerous as a route runner and after the catch. However, he might be relegated to the slot in the NFL, and the drops he has are bothersome.”

NEW: Join Pride of Detroit Direct

Jeremy Reisman will drop into your inbox twice a week to provide exclusive, in-depth reporting and insights from Ford Field. Subscribe to go deeper into Lions fandom, and join us on our path to win the Super Bowl.