ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit is one of the most respected college football analysts in the industry and has recently expanded his coverage of the NFL to include being part of Amazon’s Thursday Night Football coverage this past season. ESPN and ABC have also tapped Herbstreit as part of their NFL Draft coverage for the last several seasons, where he offers knowledge of the prospects entering the NFL.
On Friday, following the conclusion of the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, Herbstreit joined the Pat McAfee Show to discuss the big event from the night before. Unprompted, Herbstreit brought up the Detroit Lions as a team that impressed him with their pick selections on Day 1.
“The one team that stood out to me, on that first night, was Detroit.”
Herbstreit would go on to elaborate why he liked the Lions’ selection of Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs (pick No. 12) so much:
“I’m not sure people that follow (just) the NFL realize what Jahmyr Gibbs is going to be for Detroit. Think about what Detroit did last year, offensively. And now you get that weapon. Think Alvin Kamara. Think Christian McCaffrey. That’s who (Gibbs) is. This guy isn’t just a running back that can run routes. He can line up in the slot and run like a wide receiver. I mean, he is a matchup nightmare. And then he can get physical. He’s a 200-pound back, he can run between the tackles, so that was a great pick.
Gibbs was apparently viewed much higher by the NFL than draft analysts anticipated. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that the Lions were actually comfortable picking Gibbs at pick No. 6, but opted to trade down to pick No. 12 to acquire more draft capital, making sure to stay ahead of the perceived range Gibbs might be targeted by other teams.
Lions’ general manager pointed out that he had received texts from other teams that suggested Gibbs wouldn’t have lasted past the No. 15 pick, a theory that was backed up by The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, who reported that the Jets were targeting Gibbs at No. 15.
Herbstreit would also go on to talk about why Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell (pick No. 18) was such a good pick.
“And then they turn around and got Jack Campbell... that kid is a freak. 6-foot-5, 240 and he can run. Probably the most productive linebacker we have seen over the last two years combined in college football, and they pick him up. Man, I thought Detroit got off to a great start last night.”
Campbell is viewed as the centerpiece of the Lions' defense, and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz echoed what Herbstreit was saying when he met with the Lions media on Friday, suggesting that Campbell could play for the next 10 years in Detroit.
“I told people in the NFL as they came through, was that one thing I can feel pretty confident saying: whoever drafts (Campbell) is not going to let him leave the building over the next 10 years because it’s one thing to get a really good football player,” Ferentz explained. “It’s another thing to get a guy who really adds value in so many other areas, and I think that’s what Jack does. It’s just how he’s wired.”
Positional value has overshadowed the Lions’ first round, but at the end of the day, they landed two more potential foundational players, and that’s great news for this roster.
You can watch the clip of Herbstreit’s appearance on the McAfee podcast below: