Why many Detroit Lions fans were annoyed by 2 unexpected picks in first round of NFL draft

Lions draft Jahmyr Gibbs at No. 12, Jack Campbell at No. 18

Jahmyr Gibbs (left) and Jack Campbell (right). (Getty Images)

DETROIT – The Detroit Lions shocked their fan base Thursday night when they made two very unexpected selections in the first round of the NFL draft.

General Manager Brad Holmes began the night with a trade, moving down from No. 6 to No. 12 in exchange for an additional second-round pick. The Lions also forfeited their only third-round selection in the process.

When Detroit came up at No. 12, there were still a handful of elite prospects available. The Lions could have taken Christian Gonzalez, one of the top two cornerbacks in the draft, or a top edge rusher in Myles Murphy or Lukas Van Ness.

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Instead, they used their top pick on a running back. And it wasn’t even the generational running back everyone expected to go in the first round.

They drafted Jahmyr Gibbs, who has received comparisons to D’Andre Swift. Here’s the thing: The Lions already have Swift, as well as free agent signing David Montgomery. It all just feels very redundant.

It doesn’t really matter that GIbbs wasn’t expected to be drafted in the first round -- the Lions did their own evaluation and stuck to it. What’s puzzling is that the Lions used their most valuable offseason resource on someone who will likely join a three-man rotation in the backfield.

For a team that’s trying to make the leap from lovable underdog to serious contender, that pick doesn’t feel like it will have extraordinary impact.

Holmes addressed a more obvious need with the team’s second pick at No. 18, drafting linebacker Jack Campbell. He’s considered the top linebacker in the draft and has the athleticism to be a difference-maker right away.

But Campbell wasn’t projected to be a first-round pick, let alone go inside the top 20. With the Lions owning the third selection in the second-round, they probably could have waited on Campbell and used No. 18 to shore up the defensive line or take one of the elite receivers.

If Lions fans had known they were getting Gibbs and Campbell before the draft, they probably would have assumed both were selected in the second round. The fact that they woke up with the No. 6 pick and didn’t end up with even a top 20 draft prospect feels like a missed opportunity, especially after they reached again at No. 18.

Holmes made some really smart picks last year, and pretty much everyone trusts his judgement. But the plan is hard to see right now, and for a fan base that was finally starting to have some real hope, that’s a bit disappointing.

And, from a fan’s perspective, it’s kind of annoying to spend an entire offseason reading mock drafts only to see a team end up with two players nobody ever even considered. That shouldn’t affect who a general manager drafts, but it’s a real feeling.

The Lions are notorious for trying to be “the smartest guy in the room” on draft night, making picks nobody saw coming because they fell in love with lesser prospects. It very rarely worked out well in the past, but that has nothing to do with Holmes. Maybe this time will be different.

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.