Throughout the pre-draft process, Bijan Robinson has been rated as a first-round lock given his status as not only the top running back available, but one of the best prospects at any position. He might not be the only tailback to hear his name called on Day 1, though.
Jahmyr Gibbs has increasingly generated first-round buzz leading up to this week’s draft. The junior spent the first two seasons of his college career at Georgia Tech, posting 1,206 rushing yards and eight touchdowns during that span. His decision to transfer to Alabama for the 2022 season paid off, as he enjoyed a career year on the ground.
Gibbs totaled 926 rushing yards and seven scores in his lone season with the Crimson Tide, averaging 6.1 yards per carry. He continued to show his prowess as a pass-catcher as well, recording 44 receptions for 444 yards and three touchdowns. Gibbs’ 195 touches were the most he logged during a season, something which, coupled with his 5-11, 200-pound frame, has led to some concerns about his ability to handle a starter’s workload at the pro level.
In spite of that, ESPN’s Todd McShay writes that Gibbs has received continued attention around the NFL recently from evaluators, to the point where he is expected to be drafted in the first round. The valuation of running backs has made it difficult to project the range for high-end prospects at the position, but McShay adds that some teams have little in the way of a gap in ranking between Gibbs and Robinson, who has frequently been listed as the top RB to enter the league since Saquon Barkley.
Taking that point one step further, Peter King of NBC Sports notes that some teams actually project Gibbs to outperform Robinson in the NFL. The former’s chances of being named the clear-cut lead back early on with whichever team drafts him are lower than those of the latter, of course, but the two may end up being linked if their careers end up being similar in terms of production. King has Gibbs being selected 30th by the Eagles in his mock draft.
Robinson is expected to be off the board by that point, with the Falcons being named as a potential suitor for the Texas alum. Both the Buccaneers (set to pick at No. 19) and Cowboys (No. 26) have left the door open to selecting Robinson as well, despite the growing anxiety surrounding the usage of a Day 1 pick on any running back. Robinson’s ultimate landing spot could affect Gibbs’ stock, but it would come as little surprise if the latter were to join him as a first-rounder.