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Lions mailbag: Is Jahmyr Gibbs’ a good bet to win Offensive Rookie of the Year?

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Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Detroit Lions RB Jahmyr Gibbs is currently sixth in odds to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. We make the case for and against him winning the award.

As of right now, Detroit Lions rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs is sixth in odds to win 2023 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. With +900 odds, Gibbs sits behind Bijan Robinson (+250), Bryce Young (+500), Anthony Richardson (+600), CJ Stroud (+750), and Jaxon Smith-Njigba (+800)—all according to DraftKings Sportsbook.

Does that make Gibbs a pretty solid value bet for the award? That was one of our main topics on this week’s Twitter Spaces call-in show. And there are a lot of angles to take for this one.

First off, while there are certainly some quarterbacks who may have the edge by the nature of the position, it’s not as much of a slam dunk for passers to win the award, as Ryan Mathews pointed out.

“Just looking back at years past, though, a couple of quarterbacks like Kyler Murray and Justin Herbert, but outside of that: Garrett Wilson, Ja’Marr Chase, Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara,” Mathews said. “That’s a guy who we’re always comparing the level of production that might be expected in (Gibbs’) rookie season. Todd Gurley in 2015.”

And, remember, no wide receivers were taken in the first 19 picks of the draft. This could very well be a year in which a running back wins it.

Additionally, in order to win these awards, you need big, memorable plays—and that’s exactly what Gibbs was brought in to do. He can also do it in three phases of the game: rushing, receiving, and maybe even potentially as a kick returner, too.

“It’s the highlight plays too, right?” Mathews said. “So if he gets to be a kick returner, and he houses one, that sticks in everyone’s memory bank when they’re making votes. The explosive plays, I think that’s what’s going to matter, and when Ben Johnson is doing his magic…”

The tricky part for Gibbs may be his touchdown numbers. As we saw last year in Detroit, when they got down deep into the red zone, they loved to give the ball to their bruiser back behind their strong offensive line. Jamaal Williams rushed for 17 touchdowns to D’Andre Swift’s five. Those numbers could look very similar to the touchdowns David Montgomery vultures from Gibbs.

Gibbs will also have to compete for the award with a guy like Bijan Robinson—who is not only joining a Falcons team who already runs the ball very well but likely won’t come off the field during these goal-line situations. But Erik Schlitt thinks there’s reason to believe Gibbs could still tally a lot of touchdowns in 2023.

“With Williams, they leaned on that because it worked,” Schlitt said. “But if they find that they can utilize Gibbs on a Texas route, in a flat, on a whole variety of different routes in the red zone, they’re going to lean on that. They’re just going to go to it, because, in all honesty, I don’t know who is going to cover him on a Texas route. He’s going to be uncoverable.”

That entire conversation begins around the 29:30 mark of the show.

Other topics on this week’s show:

  • Which trade target would make the most sense for the Lions: Cooper Kupp or Aaron Donald? (3:00)
  • Are concerns for the Lions’ lack of wide receiver depth overblown? (7:00)
  • Which NFC teams are legitimate contenders for the sixth and seventh seeds? Could the Packers and/or Bears sneak in? (17:00)
  • Biggest mistake Brad Holmes made this offseason (44:45)
  • Taking the over/under on win totals for the Packers (7.5), Vikings (8.5), and Bears (7.5). (54:45)
  • How confident are you that the Lions will win the NFC North? (1:08:45)
  • What is the concern level for Detroit’s kicking game right now? (1:15:30)
  • How often will the Lions use six-man fronts in 2023? (1:23:30)

You can listen to the entire show below:

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