Detroit Lions swerve fanbase with head-scratching decision on day 1 of NFL draft

What moves do you foresee the Lions making Friday during day two of the draft?

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 15: A Detroit Lions fan gives a thumbs down during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ford Field on December 15, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) (Rey Del Rio, 2019 Getty Images)

DETROIT – The Detroit Lions swerved their fanbase as the organization made one of the most head-scratching decisions ever during day one of the NFL draft.

Detroit finished as the 32nd defense in the National Football League in 2022. With a 9-8 record Detroit was at least one stop away from making the playoffs in at least five of those games.

The Lions fourth-ranked offense scored with some of the best teams in the league, but on the other side of the ball, they could not stop a nosebleed as their defense finished 32nd in the NFL.

So coming into Thursday’s (April 27) draft, the fanbase expected them to bolster the defensive side with their first two picks in the top 18 selections.

With their first pick coming at No. 6, the Lions had arguably the best all-around player in Georgia Bulldogs defensive tackle Jalen Carter fall right into their lap.

They also had the freak-of-nature edge rusher Tyree Wilson of Texas Tech sitting there and the best running back in the draft in Texas Longhorns bell cow Bijon Robinson staring them right in the face.

But in typical Lions fashion, they got fancy and traded down six spots with the Arizona Cardinals, acquiring picks No. 12, 34, and 168.

And at No. 12, with their fanbase chomping at the bit, the Lions bypassed all of those players to select the second-best running back in the draft in Jahmyr Gibbs out of Alabama.

Read: Detroit Lions select Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs with No. 12 pick in NFL draft

Gibbs may be an outstanding talent, but even he was shocked at receiving the call from Detroit as they have D’Andre Swift and newly acquired bruiser David Montgomery in the backfield.

“I didn’t know I was going to get picked as high as I did because running backs don’t normally get picked as high in this new era of the draft,” said Gibbs. “It was pretty shocking to me, but I’m pretty grateful for the City of Detroit. I thought I would go somewhere in the 20s, so I was still talking to my friends when the call hit me. I was shocked.”

Gibbs was projected as a late first-round early second-round player, so when his phone rang at the 12th pick, he, like many Lions fans, was shocked that he was going so high, but vice president and general manager Brad Holmes thought otherwise.

“Starting with Jahmyr, you know he was definitely a guy that we had identified earlier on in the process,” said Holmes. “I saw him really for the first when I went to the Texas-Alabama game, and he stuck with me since then.”

Holmes continued:

“Gibbs was so explosive and dynamic in that Alabama-Texas game, and again if you’re asking like the difference between Bijon and Gibbs, I actually think they’re different players. I think one guy is more of a bell cow running back. A very talented player who’s going to make a lot of plays, but I think that our guy Gibbs is a very talented player that’s going to make a lot of plays. I think that they’re different flavors, but they were both really high-impact players, but there was just something about Gibbs for us, so that’s why we had him in such high regard.”

For his collegiate career, the multidimensional weapon rushed for 2,132 yards while also catching 103 passes for 1,212, scoring 23 touchdowns. Last season he had 151 rushing attempts for 926 yards and seven touchdowns.

Detroit has high hopes for Gibbs, as the last time they selected a running back that high was Barry Sanders.

Read: Detroit Lions select Iowa LB Jack Campbell with No. 18 pick in NFL draft

With the No. 18 pick, the Lions took Iowa Hawkeyes star linebacker Jack Campbell.

Campbell had 125 total tackles, 66 assisted tackles, and 59 solo tackles, with two interceptions, one sack, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.

During his final season as a collegiate athlete, the 6′5″ 246 pound linebacker racked up some hardware as he is the Butkus Award winner and the William V. Campbell Trophy recipient.

“There’s favorites that arise, and we fill like that’s what we got tonight, and we couldn’t be more excited as two really good impact players on both sides of the ball,” Holmes said. “I believe that they can have an impact for you on the football field, then you just go ahead and take them.”

Holmes continued:

“I’m not saying in a year or like two. We believe that these guys are ready to go right now.” “This is a different draft, and you don’t draft with a depth chart, so you want to get the best football players. So once we made the trade with Arizona, and we were able to still get No. 34 and still get those two players, we were pretty excited, so when the first round ended, there’s still some good players that we’re still excited about whether we stay or not that remains to be seen.”

Gibbs was being talked about being a borderline first or second-rounder, but coaches and coordinators thought otherwise as he brings an explosive ability to an already stacked backfield.

The mastermind of offensive coordinator Ben Johnson could use Gibbs out in space or the trenches. Although it looks like a “Same Ol’ Lions” pick, let’s give it the wait-and-see approach as the organization thinks so highly of the 21-year-old multidimensional player.

What moves do you foresee the Lions making Friday during day two of the draft? Will they go after the defensive side of the ball?

With Gibbs’ selection and David Montgomery’s signing, where does highly talented D’Andre Swift fit in this newly crowed backfield?

About the Author:

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.