After trading down with the Arizona Cardinals in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions used the No. 12 pick to select a...running back? That’s right. The Lions took Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs with the 12th pick.
It shouldn't be a shocker that the Lions walked out of the draft with a running back, but it should be a shocker that they did it this early in the draft. The Lions must have fallen in love with Gibbs quietly because there were no signs that the Lions would pick him this high in the draft. The hype level that Holmes displays here shows that there was definitely some love there.
The good news is that Gibbs is a very talented and athletic football player. The Lions don’t just get a running back here, they get a guy that can play receiver too. The Lions can use him in the slot, underneath, and even out wide. Gibbs is a playmaker.
1. This was certainly a shocking pick. What do you think drew the Lions to Gibbs?
“The same thing that I imagine drew them to Jameson Williams last year! When all else fails, get him the ball and there’s a shot it’s going to be a game-changing touchdown. I’m imagining him paired with Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jameson Williams, and the rest of that group of skill position guys for the Lions, and they very well might be the most fun and explosive offense in the entire NFL.”
2. What are his strengths?
“Obviously, the speed. Not only does Gibbs have the homerun speed to house the ball on any given play, but he also blends that butter-smooth accelerations, decelerations, and stutter-steps to slip his way through blocks at any level of the field and be back to top speed in a blink. Adding to that, his overall field vision and patience are stunning. He’s not just slamming his way through the line at top speed or trying to race everyone to the sidelines... He’s great at knowing when to slow down to set up blocks, hit cutbacks, mess up angles from multiple defenders, and just generally work his way downfield through chaos.
“He’s also a great route-runner from the backfield as well as when lined up wide. It makes him a very legitimate threat on any play, passing or rushing.”
3. What are his weaknesses?
“Size. Gibbs is not going to run up the middle and truck his way for three yards to get you the first down. He can slip arm tackles and has good balance that allows him to keep going after bouncing off of tackles, but he’s never going to power his way through someone to get that one extra yard when you need it.”
4. How quickly can Gibbs make an impact in the NFL?
“Oh, immediately. And that’s kind of the nature of the running back position, to be honest. If you’re not ready on day 1, it’s unlikely you ever will be. Speed translates. Give him the ball, and he’ll make NFL defenders grasp for air just like he has college defenders.”
5. Did the Lions make the right pick here?
“Ummm. Look, I’m most likely a bigger proponent of the value of the running back and the importance of the run game as anyone out there. But this is way higher than I expected for Gibbs.
“WITH THAT SAID, I don’t know if he still would have been around for the Lions’ second-round pick, so the idea you could get him lower doesn’t really help much. And while I don’t know all of the Lions’ team needs and the opportunity cost of the players that they didn’t draft, I can confidently say that by about Week 6 of the season, Detroit fans will no longer care about the ‘positional value’ arguments and will just be excited for the next highlight play from him.”