Just like they have all season, the Detroit Lions’ 2023 rookie class is making noise—this time by having four players named to The Athletic’s All-Rookie team.
Running back Jahmyr Gibbs, tight end Sam LaPorta, linebacker Jack Campbell, and defensive back Brian Branch all made the list compiled by the Athletic’s NFL staff. All four have made huge plays on the field for the Lions in their rookie season, and have been essential to the playoff push as well.
I wonder how many people are bashing Lions’ general manager Brad Holmes and his draft picks now? Not so many? Interesting. Just kidding. Even I whined a bit about “positional value” for the first 24-48 hours after the draft. However, after another really impressive draft class from Holmes, the lesson has been learned.
You can check out the entire list of rookies here, but for now, here’s a taste of what the Athletic had to say about a few of the Lions rookies.
“I’ll admit to having been wrong about what Gibbs was capable of in his rookie campaign,” Diante Lee wrote. “He accumulated more than 230 touches and 1,200 yards of total offense, an impressive workload for an undersized back. He’s still a boom/bust kind of back, but his change of pace has fueled Detroit’s explosive run game.”
“The 2023 draft featured one of the best TE groups we’ve seen in years. In the end, it was LaPorta alone out front,” Nick Baumgardner wrote. “He set the NFL record for receptions by a rookie TE (86) and was a perfect fit as a blocker in Detroit’s run game. The best part about his game is that he’s a unique blend of every standout Iowa tight end of recent memory: great route runner, great blocker, great hands, great in space.”
“Branch started red hot for the Lions before cooling off a bit due to injury, but he rebounded to finish strong,” Baumgardner continued. “By the end of the regular season, the rookie from Alabama had emerged as one of the league’s most impactful slot corners. He allowed just .96 yards per snap in the slot.”
And now, onto the rest of today’s notes:
- Many people around the NFL believe that this version of Jared Goff is the best. Find out why the Ringer’s Ben Solak is among the believers.
JARED GOFF? MORE LIKE JARED...GOOD— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) January 24, 2024
Jared Goff's two playoff games with the Lions are each better by EPA per dropback than all six of his playoff games with the Rams.
Why? Because Goff 2.0 is a better QB than LA Goff ever was
Full show: https://t.co/PpiiB9hS8e pic.twitter.com/2Yj7KWwL4F
- Just like he has been all season, Lions’ center Frank Ragnow is banged up. Still, he expects to be available for the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers. Kyle Meinke of Mlive has more.
Frank Ragnow (ankle/toe/knee/back) is dealing with so many injuries that they bleed across 2 boxes on the injury report. He expects to play in San Francisco, naturally.— kyle meinke (@kmeinke) January 24, 2024
But he's far from the only player banged up heading into the NFC championship game: https://t.co/kdVhMLvfn9
- Unsurprisingly, many Lions’ fans are making the journey across the country this week. Dave Birkett of the Free Press has more on how the Honolulu Blue wave is set to hit San Francisco.
- Lions’ center Frank Ragnow is among the finalists for the NFLPA Alan Page Community Award.