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Lions mailbag: Is Detroit in a unique position to get max value out of Jahmyr Gibbs?

Could the Detroit Lions be the perfect fit to actually maximize Jahmyr Gibbs’ value?

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

For all that has been said about positional value, perhaps there’s another way to look at the value the Detroit Lions are getting out of first-round pick Jahmyr Gibbs. All we have to do is look back at a February teleconference with draft expert Daniel Jeremiah, as we outlined in our Mock Draft Roundup 12.0. In this case, Jeremiah was talking about Texas running back Bijan Robinson, but obviously the philosophy stays the same Gibbs.

“My philosophy on kind of running backs is I don’t mind taking a running back in the first round, as long as your team is ready to win right now. Because if you take into account the guy has four or five, six years of elite production, I don’t mind getting him in the first round because you get the extra year on the contract. It’s easy to control it. Then I have a franchise tag number if I want, and that could kind of take me through all of his prime. But I don’t want to waste carries on a crappy team. I want to have all of his carries over that five-year period count and help push towards a championship. To take a big-time running back like that and your team stinks, you’re going to waste his prime and it’s not going to do anything for you.”

Is that a fair take with the Lions and Gibbs, or is that just rationalizing a bad pick? We obviously know that the Lions are a team whose championship window is just opening, so that part of Jeremiah’s philosophy fits. But does that still warrant a pick with more short-term value than long-term value?

Erik Schlitt and I debate that on this week’s midweek mailbag podcast. Here’s a snippet of that conversation.

Erik: “For a team like the Lions, that are in win-now (mode), drafting a running back—even if it’s ‘a reach’—you’re getting maximum value out of that player if you’re a good team, and I think everyone agrees that the Lions are in a spot where they’re going to maximize that value. (What) I do find interesting when we look at it from that approach is: where did the Lions invest? Are they getting max value? And are their ‘reaches’ really reaches or are their ‘reaches’ things that they thought they could maximize that player’s snaps by taking a position earlier than normal?”

Jeremy: “It’s an interesting theory and I think part of it is running back is one of the few positions where you can expect a big impact right away, and that’s obviously more valuable to a team that is in contention than a team that is out of contention. One of the things we’ve been saying forever is running backs have a short shelf life, so if you want to draft one early and get all four, five—if you want to throw a franchise tag and a fifth-year option in there, maybe six years—I guess it does make a little more sense to do it as a contending team. You can certainly make that argument for other positions too, as long as they’re that immediate impact positions, like an edge ... It’s an interesting theory and one that I think does have some validity to it, but I just think you can also apply it other (higher value) positions, as well.”

That discussion starts around the 9:30 mark in the podcast below.

Other topics this week:

  • With the offseason additions, are the Lions set up to defend the middle of the field much better? (1:55)
  • Why are we ignoring that Brad Holmes valued positional value his first two drafts? Is it okay now that the roster is in a better shape to lessen the importance of positional value? (6:15)
  • Could the Lions be in a position to front-load some contract extensions to free up future space? (13:50)
  • Did the Lions make a mistake by not getting D’Andre Swift’s “contract year” production? (18:00)
  • What are Year 2 expectations for Josh Paschal? (28:30)
  • What kind of growth are we hoping for Dan Campbell in Year 3? (32:40)
  • With Gibbs and Sam LaPorta likely taking some snaps at slot, does that mean we’ll get more of Amon-Ra St. Brown outside? (38:45)

You can listen to the entire episode below:

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