Each offseason, teams in the NFL make assortments of moves in order to better equip themselves for the upcoming season of football, with the NFL draft being the ultimate time to encompass that need. With every NFL draft comes, inevitably, different opinions on how teams should address their team needs. That creates the room for draft picks to be made that are unpopular amongst fanbases for one reason or another. That could be the team passing on a player that the fans like, or it could mean a team drafting a player that the general public thought would go a lot later in the draft relative to what happened. This was the case with rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who was drafted out of Alabama by Detroit with the 12th overall pick in the draft. Despite varying opinions on this draft choice by the Lions, one thing never came into question with this pick, and that’s Jahmyr’s talent. Everyone knows that the young running back is very talented and can be very versatile in the NFL, but just how talented could he really be? What roles could he really succeed in at the NFL level? What would he have to do to live up to the 12th overall pick? Most importantly, what damage could he do to opposing defenses starting with Kansas City?
To start, we all know that Gibbs will be used as a receiving back more often than not, but could he truly succeed as a three-down back in the league? The short answer is yes, absolutely. The key to gaining trust as a multi-down back in the league is the ability to either break off big plays, or gain consistent yardage on first down, both of which Gibbs can do. His blazing speed will pair well with the Lions offensive line, which consistently opens up running lanes to be run through. Gibbs can definitely get happy feet from time to time, but with more experience running behind the likes of Penei Sewell, Frank Ragnow, Jonah Jackson, and Taylor Decker, Gibbs will learn to trust the lanes that open up in front of him and that will lead to some huge gains. It may take some growing pains, but he could become a massive home run threat on a consistent basis in the run game to pair with the matchup nightmare he is in the pass game.
Speaking of that nightmare that he is in the passing game, this is one that may break some NFL defenses for time to come. Imagine teams being forced to play two high safeties to account for Jameson’s speed, leaving a linebacker on Gibbs that will get torched more often than not. Even when Jameson is off the field, Gibbs will be able to play out wide, from the backfield, in the slot, or wherever else Ben Johnson can think to place him in this soon to be overwhelming scheme. Gibbs has great hands and can make people miss one-on-one with ease, making him easily the biggest threat to turn a play into big yardage for this team.
With the combination of big play capability and help in the backfield in the form of David Montgomery, Gibbs could be a great weapon in this league for years to come. As with always with the running back position, the biggest focus will be making sure this young star is healthy and ready to go come game time, and if the Lions can manage to do that, they may have a franchise cornerstone on their hands that could further propel this team forward.