NFL: Lions rookie Jahmyr Gibbs expected to be Rookie of Year candidate

Detroit Lions Sport News


  • The Lions drafted Gibbs No. 12 overall out of Alabama to provide some juice to the running game.
  • NFL Hall of Famer Barry Sanders is the last Lion to win Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1989.
  • Lions offensive coordinator says team will use Gibbs in various ways.

Starting Thursday, Detroit is ready to unleash its fleet of offensive weapons on the rest of the NFL, and the newest toy is running back Jahmyr Gibbs.

Gibbs was used sparingly in the preseason, but showed the speed and elusiveness that made the Lions take him with their first-round pick in the NFL Draft. He’s considered a modern running back, meaning adept at both running and receiving.

The Michigan sportsbooks love Gibbs’ potential. FanDuel has him fourth at +900 to win the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, and BetMGM has slightly lower odds at +750.

Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson is the favorite (+300 at BetMGM) as the season starts, but Gibbs may have the better situation to emerge as the best offensive rookie this season.

Gibbs Can Go

After two strong seasons at Georgia Tech, Gibbs transferred to Alabama and immediately fit into the Crimson Tide’s offense as a primary weapon. He led Alabama with 926 yards on the ground and also caught 44 passes for 444 yards.

He capped his college career with 152 all-purpose yards in a Sugar Bowl win over Kansas State.

Built at 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, Gibbs is a special combination of speed and size.

Where Gibbs Can Impact the Lions

Before the Lions game with defending Super Bowl champions Kansas City Thursday night in the NFL Kickoff game, offensive coordinator Ben Johnson said that the team “might use Gibbs in some ways people don’t think we might.”

We must take some of this with a grain of salt, it could just be gamesmanship before the big game, but it probably means lining up Gibbs at wide receiver in certain formations and using him in the same backfield as David Montgomery, giving defenses a tough decision on who to focus on.

The best thing Gibbs has going for his case as Rookie of the Year is that the Lions already have a good offense that ranked fifth in scoring last year. Gibbs will not have to carry the load, but can impact the season.

Can Gibbs Win Rookie of the Year?

A running back hasn’t won AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year since New York Giants star Saquon Barkley in 2018. The last four years it’s been two quarterbacks and two wide receivers.

Bijan Robinson is the favorite because he’s expected to be the main option for the Falcons, but Atlanta is in a big rebuilding mode. Two quarterbacks are next on the board: Bryce Young (Carolina Panthers) and Anthony Richardson (Indianapolis Colts) but neither has the supporting cast to do much.

Gibbs is in a great position with an experience vet at quarterback in Jared Goff, a star wide receiver in Amon-Ra St. Brown, and another running back in Montgomery to lean on. He will have plenty of chances to be special for the Lions, and if he performs, the rewards will come.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.