NFL Draft Rumors: How Why the Detroit Lions Drafted RB Jahmyr Gibbs at 12

NFL Draft Rumors: How Why the Detroit Lions Drafted RB Jahmyr Gibbs at 12

The Detroit Lions’ first round of the 2023 NFL Draft will go down as one of the most surprising in recent history. While the Lions running back early weren’t a complete shock, that selection, Jahmyr Gibbs with the 12th overall pick, was something that literally no one in the public had on their radar.

The Lions have drawn a lot of criticism for getting both the player and the position, but general manager Brad Holmes made it clear Thursday night that he doesn’t care about outside perception or the sham draft.

“They bring value, but that doesn’t really move me,” Holmes said of mock drafts. “I wasn’t really into, ‘Man, Jahmyr Gibbs, he was making fun of in the 50’s.’ Well I laughed at that one because when you look at the talent of the player you look at the whole of the design, I didn’t think that was even close.

How did all this develop? How did we all miss the Lions’ intentions?

Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer shed some light on the Lions’ hunt for Gibbs in his Monday morning column.

As many have speculated, it started with Devon Witherspoon going to the Seattle Seahawks as the fifth overall pick. Breer believes he was the Lions’ original target with the intention of then trading and getting Gibbs, but with Witherspoon gone they had to change their plans – which they were willing to do.

Breer says the Lions were ready to “break the internet” and just take Gibbs with the sixth overall.

“We didn’t think we were going to do that at sixsaid Holmes to Campbell, but who cares? He’s our favorite guy we have left.”

But then, as Breer put it, the Arizona Cardinals “threw them a life raft.”

The Lions were able to trade six places for 12th overall, and a key member of the Cardinals’ front office helped facilitate that trade. You may recall that Dave Sears, director of college scouting for the Detroit Lions, was hired by the Cardinals as their new assistant general manager in January. Sears’ relationship with Holmes helped orchestrate the trade.

“The Cardinals drew on another relationship, between Lions GM Brad Holmes and their own assistant GM Dave Sears, whom (Cardinals GM Monti) Ossenfort hired from Detroit in February,” Breer wrote.

Arizona proved to be the perfect trade-down candidate for Detroit because the Lions were concerned if they waited too long — say, until their 18th overall — Gibbs would be gone.

“The Cardinals gave Holmes a chance to grab a high second, slip down six spots and, fingers crossed, still land Gibbs by staying ahead of two teams that the Lions heard liked him at the Patriots ( at 14) and the Jets (at 15),” Breer wrote.

While all of this is a mix of Breer’s reporting and his own speculation, it’s consistent with what Holmes said after Day 1 of the draft.

Were they really involved in Witherspoon? Holmes didn’t say so directly, but did mention that some of “their boys” were made before their sixth pick.

“[There’s]like a handful of favorite players in the draft,” Holmes said. “Some of those guys were taken before we could pick them, but Jahmyr was certainly one of those guys.”

As for the rumor that another team was interested in taking Gibbs before their 18th overall pick, Holmes said after they picked Gibbs he received multiple texts and calls from teams saying exactly that.

“That’s when all the messages came in, ‘Oh, would have been out by 3.'” Holmes said. “Just a lot of tips, a lot of people said they wanted to trade, they wanted to get him.”

Whether any of this is true remains to be seen. Maybe we’ll get a glimpse of those high-intensity moments when the Lions take their “Inside the Den” behind-the-scenes draft video. But for now, that seems like a reasonable series of events that led to Jahmyr Gibbs being a Detroit Lion.

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