There was speculation ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft that a team could draft a running back in the first few picks, and that rumor proved true when the Falcons grabbed Bijan Robinson at No. 8 overall. But what was less expected was for the No. 2 ranked RB in the class to also hear his name called on Day 1.
When asked at rookie minicamp this weekend what he thought about those saying that the Lions picking him there was a "reach," Gibbs brushed off the criticism, saying he doesn't listen to whether others think he was a worthy pick.
"Everybody's entitled to their opinion, I really don't care," Gibbs said, via the Detroit News. "It feels great to be a part of something special. Going up, moving forward, it'll be fun to watch."
Gibbs was considered to be the second-best option for a team in need of a running back heading into April's draft after putting together a dynamic season at Alabama. Having transferred from Georgia Tech ahead of the 2022 season, Gibbs put his name on the map with 1,624 all-purpose yards, averaging 6.1 yards per carry and 10.1 yards per catch.
But with recent years showing a devaluation of the RB in the draft's positional hierarchy, many expected to see running backs other than Robinson come off the board later in the first round or on Day 2, not 12 picks in.
Gibbs himself said soon after getting drafted that he was surprised he got selected as high as he did, acknowledging at the time that running backs don't usually get picked early in the "new age" of the draft.
But with the Lions bucking that trend and taking a risk on Gibbs, they're hoping the 21-year-old will be able to find success in a running back room that will look a lot different than in 2022. Leading rusher Jamaal Williams departed Detroit in favor of New Orleans, while D’Andre Swift was traded to the Eagles post-draft after Gibbs' selection made him the odd man out in the offense.
That leaves the Lions with zero returning players with more than 170 rushing yards for the team last season as they completely rebuilt the depth chart at the position. At this point, Gibbs is expected to share snaps with former Bears standout David Montgomery, with the chance to prove the doubters wrong and show why he was drafted exactly when he deserved to be.