Detroit Lions get lofty spot in ranking of NFL running back groups

Nov 27, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery (32)
Nov 27, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery (32) / Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

After turning over the top spots on their depth chart this offseason, the Detroit Lions backfield has gotten a lofty spot in a league-wide ranking of NFL running back rotations.

They say, or they might say, "if you're going to change, change for the better." For the Detroit Lions and their running back depth chart this offseason, they unequivocally did that when they pivoted to David Montgomery from Jamaal Williams in free agency.

And while the jury is out, until he actually plays meaningful games, hopes are high that first-round pick Jahmyr Gibbs will be an upgrade over D'Andre Swift. The resource investment in Montgomery and Gibbs invites an exciting idea they'll be on the field together at times this season.

The slower time on the NFL calendar invites rankings of things. Not good or bad, at least for most people, it's just the nature of keeping viable content flowing.

Christian D'Andrea of USA TODAY's "For The Win" has ranked NFL running back rotations 1-32. And in the true spirit of such a list, to maintain the mystery, he counted down starting at 32.

Detroit Lions running back group gets a lofty spot in ranking

In D'Andrea's backfield ranking, depth (of course) and relative youth matter. Given the nature/short shelf of the running back position, and the devaluing of it in the modern NFL, that is pretty much as it should be to create a ranking of backfields.

In the hunt to see where the Lions running backs ranked, it was easy to think they'd be top half or so. Top-12? Yep. Top-10? You bet.



At No. 4, there are the Lions. Here's D'Andrea's brief rationale for putting them there.

"Primary backs: David Montgomery, Jahmyr Gibbs, Craig Reynolds

Montgomery found a way to make hay even behind a patchwork Bears offensive line and now gets the chance to thrive behind Detroit’s much more stable unit. But he’ll just be part of a platoon thanks to the presence of Gibbs. The 12th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft averaged 6.1 yards per carry for Alabama last season while adding 44 receptions in 12 games."

Only the Indianapolis Colts (No. 3--Jonathan Taylor, etc.), the San Francisco 49ers (No. 2--Christian McCaffrey, etc.) and the Atlanta Falcons (No. 1--Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier) are above the Lions in D'Andrea's backfield ranking. Just behind them are the Seattle Seahawks (Kenneth Walker, Zach Charbonnet) at No. 5 and the Buffalo Bills (James Cook, Damien Harris) at No. 6.

Where should the Lions' reshaped backfield rank from 1-32 in the NFL? Are they too high here? Too low? Or just right? No. 4 feels a little high, but top-10 is certainly justifiable.

Next. 5 former Lions who are unsurprisingly still FAs. 5 former Detroit Lions who are unsurprisingly still free agents as June nears. dark