Gibbs is expected to be the Lions' passing-downs back while also splitting rushing duties with David Montgomery. Detroit was a running back stat-factory last year, leading the NFL with 27 RB rushing touchdowns while ranking fifth in RB carries and ninth in RB targets. That should continue. Gibbs was an elusive three-down player at Alabama, totaling 10 touchdowns in 12 games with raucous 6.1-yard rushing and 10.1-yard receiving averages last year. He profiles just like Jamaal Charles: a fast, lean runner with very good receiving skills. If D'Andre Swift averaged over 13 PPR points in each of his first three years in Detroit, Gibbs should too -- and with the chance at seeing more touches. Someone in every seasonal draft will take Gibbs before 60th overall, maybe as high as 40th overall, with the hope he accomplishes more than any Lions running back has since Barry Sanders.
Gibbs is an electrifying rookie with strong pass-catching chops that should be a fixture of the Lions’ offense in 2023.
Though his slight frame (5’9, 199 pounds) and the presence of RB David Montgomery will somewhat limit his ceiling, we expect that Gibbs should be a solid flex option with the upside to finish as a strong RB2 in PPR scoring formats in 2023.
What We Learned Last YearGibbs was selected 12th in the 2023 NFL Draft.The former Georgia Tech RB entered the transfer portal in 2022 and landed with college football powerhouse Alabama. He posted a stellar junior season in the SEC:Gibbs tallied a team-leading 44 receptions on 52 targets with 1,370 scrimmage yards and 10 total TDs, eventually earning All-SEC second-team honors.As a sophomore in 2021 at Georgia Tech, he was named to the All-ACC first team in addition to securing honors as a second-team All-American.Gibbs’ target share (17%) ranked fifth among all Power 5 conference RBs that season.Gibbs measured in at 5’9, 199 pounds at the NFL Combine. That’s 25th-percentile height and 14th-percentile weight among Combine RBs. He also recorded the second-fastest 40 time (4.36 seconds) among RBs, with an impressive 1.52-second 10-yard split time (83rd percentile).
What to Expect in 2023Gibbs should immediately walk into an impact role. Between his high NFL draft capital and how well his skill set translates to the offensive scheme that the team runs, there’s plenty of reason to be excited about the rookie.The team did sign free agent RB David Montgomery to a three-year, $18 million contract this offseason but also traded away RB D’Andre Swift. The Swift move plus the draft capital spent on Gibbs makes it clear the team believes him to be an upgrade over the departed RB.OC Ben Johnson has spent the last two years on the Lions' staff (passing game coordinator in 2021, OC in 2022). In each of those two seasons, Swift received 70+ targets. He even ranked 10th among RBs in targets last year, despite missing time and falling out of favor with coaches.
Gibbs was selected with the 12th pick of April's draft. The Alabama product's carry count (and perhaps goal line TDs) may be limited by his size (5-foot-9, 199 lbs.), but he has the speed (4.36 40-yard dash), quickness and hands to be a major difference-maker in the passing game. Gibbs' tackle-breaking, elusiveness and YAC numbers were solid-to-good in 31 collegiate games, but he mixed in a ton of negative runs (rookie-class-high 24%). He made up for that with a 104-1,217-8 receiving line (which included elite efficiency) during the span. Gibbs will team up with David Montgomery in a Detroit backfield that scored a league-high 501 fantasy points in 2023. Especially behind the Lions' elite offensive line, Gibbs has immediate RB2 value in fantasy.