Decisions to use No. 12 and No. 18 overall picks on a running back (Jahmyr Gibbs) and an off-ball linebacker (Jack Campbell) brought some scrutiny for the Lions. Another organizational plan would have generated more attention during Round 1.
The Lions were prepared to pounce on Devon Witherspoon if the Seahawks went in another direction, with Albert Breer of SI.com indicating the Lions regarded the Illinois cornerback as a clean prospect. But the Seahawks deviated from their past at the corner position and chose Witherspoon at No. 5, leaving the Lions in a bind.
That predicament stemmed from the team placing a much higher-than-expected value on Gibbs. After the Seahawks drafted Witherspoon, GM Brad Holmes spoke with Dan Campbell about pivoting to Gibbs at 6. While Breer adds the Lions’ initial plan was not to draft the Alabama dual threat that high, they were prepared to do so until the Cardinals called about their trade offer to secure Paris Johnson. That move to No. 12 allowed the Lions to pick up draft capital, avoiding a wildly unexpected scenario in which Gibbs went off the board before Bijan Robinson.
Teams’ interest in Gibbs became known during draft week, when reports circulated about some clubs rating former Crimson Tide contributor in the same realm as Robinson. Gibbs topped 440 receiving yards in each of the past two years, and the Lions are prepared to use thee rookie as a multipurpose back to complement David Montgomery. Holmes has acknowledged the positional value-based criticism that has come with selecting a running back 12th overall, and the Lions had the option of drafting Jalen Carter or Tyree Wilson at No. 6. Taking Gibbs over those two pass rushers would have doubled as one of the more fascinating moves in recent draft history, but the Lions added No. 34 and No. 168 to move down six spots.
Detroit did not bring Witherspoon in for a visit, and neither Campbell nor Holmes trekked to Champaign for his pro day. The Seahawks had never drafted a corner higher than 90th (Shaquill Griffin) under the John Schneider–Pete Carroll regime, but Witherspoon will team with Tariq Woolen in Seattle. Witherspoon remaining on the board at 5 helped the Seahawks resist a trade-down urge. The Lions have made a few significant additions to their secondary this offseason, signing Cameron Sutton, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Emmanuel Moseley. After the Seahawks chose Witherspoon, the Lions added Alabama DB Brian Branch in Round 2.
The team initially wanted to draft either Witherspoon or Will Anderson Jr. at No. 6, per Breer, and trade up from No. 18 for Gibbs. Trading out of No. 6 obviously reflected Lions hesitancy regarding Carter and the team placing a value gap between Anderson and Wilson. The Lions moving to 12 also kept them in front of two teams they heard were Gibbs fans — the Patriots (No. 14) and Jets (No. 15). A scouting trip to last season’s Alabama-Texas game alerted Holmes to Gibbs, and he will replace D’Andre Swift in the Motor City.
The Gibbs pick prompted the Eagles to act quickly. They swapped seventh-round picks with the Lions sent the NFC North franchise a 2025 fourth for Swift, who joins Rashaad Penny as Philly offseason backfield additions. Holmes and Eagles GM Howie Roseman discussed the Swift trade for “a few days.”
“It’s my job to keep laser-focused on the present but probably even more importantly, keep laser-focused on the future,” Holmes said, via the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett. “And that’s what went into a lot of the decisions with having to make the trade with D’Andre Swift to Philly. He was in the last year of his contract and if I go back to last year, I felt really good about us being able to bring back Jamaal Williams. I felt confident as the season ended. I felt good with our conversations with his camp, and it didn’t happen. So you have to just be prepared for all those things.”
Williams did not speak highly of the Lions’ offer; last season’s rushing touchdowns leader is now with the Saints on a three-year, $12MM deal. Montgomery signed a three-year, $18MM pact with the Lions. He and Gibbs now comprise Detroit’s backfield, with the latter on a first-round contract that could have checked in at a higher draft slot.
18 comments on “Lions Eyed CB Devon Witherspoon; Team Considered Taking Jahmyr Gibbs At No. 6”
Conventional wisdom sometimes is the right path to take but the Lions were aggressive in the draft. I liked that. Theyve had an aggressive off season and see an opening with Rodgers out of the division now.
As much as the rb position has been devalued in recent memory. 2 minutes left in 4th, with the ball, up 3 or 7…… you aren’t throwing the ball in all likelihood.
If Gibbs can be a 1200 – 1500 yards from scrimmage dual threat guy for the next 5 6 7 years Lions would have gotten good value out of the this pick.
lol…running back and inside linebacker…Matt Millen still calling the shots?
they HAD a running back…they wasted money on one in free agency….the only un-Lion like thing that happened was that they were able to trade away the extra piece…the known quantity…lol
You’re so upset
The RB they let walk wanted to get paid, so we got a better one for basically the same $, and the Jamo suspension is somewhat forcing the hand of the front office in that draft to shore up offensive weapons. Swift couldn’t stay on the field and lacks toughness, always looking to go down to first contact. Not the recipe we’re moving forward with.
Yeah, I’m glad most people on here aren’t the GM. Holmes is trying to win games, not the draft.
Gibbs over Bijan? What’s in their protein shake over there in Detroit?
Different types of backs Gibbs will catch more passes out of the backfield & it will not even be close. Robinson is too similar to Montgomery so it’s not that Gibbs is better its he’s a better FIT for the Lions. It’s not hard to figure out the strategy. Lions went for FIT & character over some arbitrary statistical estimates of future performance
Gibbs is blur. If he gets daylight it’s over. He won’t be caught. Plus he’s a better receiver than Robinson. Brad Holmes has his own draft board, he doesn’t refer to Mel Kiper’s. I like the pick. Detroit already has a explosive offense that should be moreso now.
I personally think that’s just lip service for Gibbs. I firmly believe if Robinson was there at 12, he’d be a Lion.
I like the players DET took, just each was like a full round overdrafted
When I look at the Lions draft, I just think “wow this team did great for not having a first round pick”. That’s seriously what it looks like. They got some good players but coulda done so much better. Typical Lions draft haha. Helped my birds so thank you
You don’t really understand & that’s okay there are so many armchair GM’s like you that we all laugh at. You obviously don’t know squat about Holmes & the typical Lions draft ended 4 years ago
Let’s not try to go there when the lions really haven’t been that much better over the last 4 years. And you can say all you want about “armchair GM”, but I can tell you Howie Roseman wouldn’t have drafted Gibbs that high period. And definitely wouldn’t do it with Swift on the roster in a contract year. Let’s talk more about the coach only giving him 99 carries last year too. That’s blasphemy. You’ll waste Gibbs the same way you wasted Swift.
Funny how Howie Roseman is the perfect GM now. Two years ago Philly fans wanted him gone for taking Reagor over Jefferson.
You conveniently forgot the fact Swift dealt with shoulder and ankle sprains last year, which led to him missing 3 games for the third straight season. Not to mention, groin and shoulder injuries in college, a concussion in 2020 and groin and shoulder injuries in 2021.
Nobody was going to take Gibbs at 6.
They needed a corner. Corner who was #1 on many boards sitting there at 12. And they took a RB. Bold move to take a RB that high. 3 times I believe in the last 23 years that a team has won a SB with a 1st round RB that they drafted. Bush, Mendenhall, and Clyde Edwards-Helarie (who didn’t play in the SB). Doesn’t mean it won’t happen for the Lions, just that prioritizing other positions seems to have worked out 20 of 23 times.
How did they need a corner when they signed Sutton and Moseley as FA’s? Plus they signed Gardner-Johnson who can play corner and safety? Then they topped if off by drafting Brian Branch who for the life of me I don’t understand how he was available at pick 45, when he easilly could been a 1st rounder.. Some of you guys would never make a good GM…
Moseley and CGJ signed 1 year deals… which means they’re in the market for a corner again next season.