Detroit Lions well-represented on Rookie of the Year candidates lists

It's not that surprising, but the Detroit Lions are well-represented on's lists of Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year candidates.
Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Lions say they had just 14 players with first-round grades in this year's draft, which is a little below normal. And they apparently got four of them--running back Jahmyr Gibbs, linebacker Jack Campbell, tight end Sam LaPorta and defensive back Brian Branch--within the first 50 picks.

The Lions will again lean on rookies to be difference makers this season. Gibbs is the headliner, but Campbell, LaPorta and Branch are in line to have immediate roles too. To say nothing of down the road, when all four could be starters and among the best in the league at their positions. General manager Brad Holmes had another nice draft.

This side of Falcons' running back Bijan Robinson, Gibbs is an easy contender for Offensive Rookie of the Year. LaPorta, in line to be the Lions' No. 1 tight end, could be a dark horse, longshot bet for those who are so inclined.

Campbell and Branch, with less clear-cut roles right away, are harder to tab as candidates for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Both may not even start a game this year.

Detroit Lions are well-represented on Rookie of the Year candidate lists

Lance Zierlein of put out lists of Top 10 Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year candidates earlier this week.

On the offensive side, Gibbs comes in at No. 6. It's easy to think LaPorta was beaten out by fellow rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid for the lone honorable mention.

"We know Gibbs won't be the primary back, with David Montgomery in the fold as the new RB1 in Detroit. However, Gibbs is an explosive two-way threat with game-changing ability. The Lions have one of the most talented play-callers in the league in Ben Johnson, who should be able to find creative ways to get Gibbs touches and targets, especially out of the backfield. Production as a runner and receiver will help, but he'll need to prove he can find enough touchdowns to win this award."

Lance Zierlein,

Above Gibbs is Robinson, Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson and Jordan Addison. There's certainly a case for the Lions' rookie back to be a little higher than No. 6.

On the defensive side, Campbell is No. 3 on Zierlein's list while Branch is No. 8.

"I will admit that I wasn’t as high on Campbell as the Lions were, but they certainly weren’t the only team bullish about his potential at the next level. Campbell plays with fairly average sideline-to-sideline speed, but he has a good feel for play development and finds his way to the football quite frequently. Inside linebackers who rack up tackles on good football teams have a track record of winning DROY."

Lance Zierlein,

"Detroit head coach Dan Campbell announced that the non-contact injury suffered by C.J. Gardner-Johnson in Monday’s practice does not appear to be serious, which is great news. There still could be an opportunity for Branch to show Lions fans what he is capable of right off the bat, though. His NFL Scouting Combine testing failed to excite, but it doesn’t take much tape study to see that Branch is a pro-ready talent with strong coverage technique and tackle consistency. He can play both safety spots or the nickel, so he could be in position to make more plays than your average defensive back as a rookie."

Lance Zeirlein,

The last Lions Offensive Rookie of the Year, if it isn't obvious, was Barry Sanders in 1989. Their last Defensive Rookie of the Year was, probably obviously too, Ndamukong Suh in 2010. Will those those droughts end this year?

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