In the past week, the term “positional value” has been used ad nauseum to criticize the Detroit Lions’ 2023 draft haul, particularly the first-round choices of running back Jahmyr Gibbs and linebacker Jack Campbell. While there is certainly a fair argument to be made against picking those positions that high, the actual argument seems to have gotten lost amidst people just screaming the term over and over again.
Our good friend Brett Whitefield—the director of data and research from Fantasy Points—swung by our First Byte podcast to discuss the Lions’ draft. We broke down each individual prospect, and in the middle of the discussion, he gave a very simple way to look at the expectations for the Lions’ top picks because they did not prioritize positional value.
“The reason it matters is how you construct the roster,” Whitefield said. “The moment Gibbs was drafted in the slot he was, he becomes the 12th-highest paid running back in the NFL. Conversely, if they were to take (Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba) there, he’s the 43rd highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL. The surplus value now that you’re getting at those positions is so far out of whack that for Gibbs to get even close to net-zero for what they’re paying him, he has to dramatically outperform his draft slot. JSN has to modestly perform at that draft slot to get 43rd-highest paid receiver value—not to mention the fact receivers are more valuable to an offense than running backs, in general.”
It’s complex conversation to be had, but I promise—if you’re tired of that conversation—it doesn’t dominate this week’s First Byte episode.
Here’s a guide to us talking about each individual prospect by timecode in the episode below:
- RB Jahmyr Gibbs (2:15)
- LB Jack Campbell (10:15)
- TE Sam LaPorta (15:15)
- DB Brian Branch (18:30)
- QB Hendon Hooker (23:15)
- DT Brodric Martin (30:00)
- OL Colby Sorsdal (33:55)
- WR Antoine Green (36:45)
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