The Detroit Lions made a very surprising pick after trading down from the sixth overall pick to the 12th pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. With that pick, they selected Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs—the second running back off the board thus far in the draft.
Here are my immediate thoughts on the pick.
Hate the value
I’m not going to rehash the debate over whether it’s smart to take a running back in the first round. We’ve exhausted it. The problem is that we exhausted that conversation with Texas running back Bijan Robinson. Taking the second-best running back at 12th overall is a highly questionable move.
However, Lions general manager Brad Holmes said at his pre-draft press conference that he did not adhere to the narrative about first-round value of running backs.
“If you think that player is that good, then if he’s out there producing for you, I don’t think anybody’s going to look back and say – I don’t think anybody’s said in 2016 or ’17 or ’18, ‘Wow, Todd (Gurley), he really picked him at 10.’” Holmes said. “No, he was just a really good running back and he was one of the top prospects in the Draft. We didn’t really bat an eye about it.”
After the Lions just spent $6 million a year on David Montgomery in free agency, the Lions are spending a lot of resources at the running back position—which is bucking the trend in the NFL.
Love the player
Gibbs is an electric player, and immediately gives Detroit an offensive weapon and a new dynamic. If the Lions offensive line continues to play well—and there’s no reason to believe they wont—the Lions have a home-run hitter that their run game was sorely missing in the second half of last season.
Jahmyr Gibbs is a talented RB for sure, but with Swift and Montgomery already there and a ton of other needs, not sure what the Lions were thinking. Gibbs is definitely the best playmaker of the three, though.pic.twitter.com/Rsrlj8fzmw— WG (@NvictusManeo) April 28, 2023
Additionally, his ability to catch out of the backfield will be something offensive coordinator Ben Johnson will absolutely love.
A two-way weapon for Detroit was an underrated need, because while the Lions do have a decent amount of weapons, they don’t have a ton of big-play potential with their current set of offensive weapons—especially after Jameson Williams’ six-game suspension.
D’Andre Swift’s days are numbered
Gibbs is a very similar player to Swift, and with a crowded backfield, it doesn’t seem like it makes a ton of sense to keep both. Detroit could certainly just keep Swift around—he’s only taking up $2.7 million in cap space—but it may be wise to see if you can get anything out of him in the trade market right now. I wouldn’t expect anything more than a late Day 3 pick, but it may be better to get something now than nothing later when he becomes a free agent next year.