NFL Draft: Lions make surprise selection of Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs at No. 12
So much for waiting for running backs.
The Detroit Lions produced one of the biggest surprises of the NFL Draft on Thursday, selecting Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs with the No. 12 pick. They took Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell with their second pick of the first round at No. 18. Campbell was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and the Butkus Award winner as the nation's best linebacker.
The Gibbs selection bucks the trend of teams waiting beyond the first round to draft the position. In fact, he was the second running back off the board after the Atlanta Falcons selected Texas' Bijan Robinson at No. 8.
Robinson's selection was less of a surprise as he projects as a potential generational player at the position. Very few mock drafts projected Gibbs being selected in the top half of the first round. Yahoo Sports' Charles McDonald had him going in the second round at No. 51 to the Miami Dolphins.
A look at Gibbs' stats and his physical traits shows why the Lions were willing to roll the dice. A 5-9, 199-pound back, Gibbs possesses elite speed and is a home-run threat whenever he touches the ball. He clocked a 4.36 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.
A dual threat who's compared himself to San Francisco 49ers All-Pro Christian McCaffrey, Gibbs makes plays out of the backfield and as a pass catcher. In his lone season at Alabama after transferring from Georgia Tech, Gibbs tallied 926 yards and 7 touchdowns on 6.1 yards per carry. He caught 44 passes for 444 yards and 3 touchdowns.
In 19 games across two seasons at Georgia Tech, he tallied 1,206 yards and 8 touchdowns on 5.6 yards per carry while adding 59 catches for 768 yards and five touchdowns.
It's not clear how Detroit's backfield will shake out next season. D'Andre Swift returns to his role as a dual threat after tallying 931 yards and 8 touchdowns from scrimmage. Gone is Jamaal Williams, who joined the New Orleans Saints as a free agent. But the Lions added former Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery in free agency.
One thing's for certain. Detroit didn't draft Gibbs at No. 12 so he could wait his turn.