Lions Net Explosive RB in Offense-Heavy 2 Round NFL Mock Draft

Jahmyr Gibbs

Getty Jahmyr Gibbs runs the ball for Alabama in a 2022 game.

During mock draft season, most analysts are content to provide a first-round guide for teams, as that is where much of the intrigue lies.

The Detroit Lions not only have two first round picks, but a pair in the second as well. That makes them one of the more interesting teams in terms of the second day of the draft, as their options are open as it relates to finding roster fixes.

One of the first looks at how the second-round might play out in 2023 was recently provided in a new mock by ESPN’s draft insider Matt Miller. Within the first round of the draft, Miller had the Lions selecting Devon Witherspoon with the sixth pick and Iowa defensive lineman Lukas Van Ness with pick 18.

The second round as where things got a bit more interesting for Detroit. Miller went offense with the team’s pick at 48, grabbing Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta for the team. As he admitted, LaPorta offers the Lions a bit of everything in terms of ability, which could make him desirable to a needy team like Detroit.

“The Lions traded T.J. Hockenson to the Vikings in November and can add his replacement with the surprising availability of LaPorta at this spot. He is a fantastic move blocker and a stellar receiver over the middle, and he has enough after-the-catch ability to project as a starter. LaPorta had just five touchdowns in college, but like his NFL comparison Dawson Knox, he looks to be a better pro than college player,” Miller wrote in the piece.

With Minnesota’s selection gained in the T.J. Hockenson trade, ironically, the Lions double down and go offense once again, grabbing Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs. In terms of Gibbs, Miller said that he could be a potential replacement for D’Andre Swift in the mold of Alvin Kamara or Tony Pollard.

“The running back room in Detroit is highly dependent on Jamaal Williams, who is hitting free agency as he turns 28. Williams might be back on a short-term deal, but D’Andre Swift hasn’t developed into a true RB1 candidate. Gibbs, a fantastic receiver out of the backfield and a slashing runner, was compared to Alvin Kamara by one scout I talked to recently, though I see more Tony Pollard in him,” he wrote

Defense heavy first, then offense heavy in the second-round. It wouldn’t be a terrible idea for a Lions team that has to find ways to improve across the board on defense this offseason while getting more dangerous on offense.

Tight end and running back could be two of the needier spots on the roster if the Lions do indeed prioritize offense. Each are checked off in this mock, along with major defensive upgrades.

In terms of how the first four picks play out, this could become a major win for the Lions and their bright future.

LaPorta’s College Stats & Highlights

Given the production the Lions enjoyed at tight end in the second half of the 2022 season, it isn’t a stretch to proclaim that a spot of smaller need for the team.

Detroit, however, might want to get better after making their big midseason trade and LaPorta could help them do that instantly. The tight end isn’t a prolific college pass catcher, having hauled in just five touchdowns and 1,786 yards in his career. He is gritty and tough as the tape shows, however.

LaPorta could also impact the game as a blocker, as most tight ends from Iowa translate well to the NFL. Names like Dallas Clark, Hockenson and Noah Fant have all done well in their transitions to the league, and LaPorta could be next in line.

Gibbs’ College Stats & Highlights

In terms of Gibbs, the comparison to either Kamara or Pollard at running back is eye opening. Detroit’s ground game was already solid in 2022, but questions could hover over it in 2023. Namely, do Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift come back?

In the event that one of those players is gone, Gibbs could make sense as an elite plug-and-play option. The youngster is one of the most exciting running backs in college, and has plenty of big plays to his credit with Alabama already.

As a whole, Gibbs put up 2,132 yards on the ground with 15 touchdowns. He also caught 103 passes for 1,212 yards and eight receiving scores. That proves what a dynamic playmaker he could be for a team like Detroit that is searching for offensive explosion.

Gibbs could give the Lions the speed they crave out of the backfield to change the game, and could provide a top NFL offense another weapon to be worried about.

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