After a slower start than some would have considered ideal, Detroit Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs had a nice rookie season-1,261 yards from scrimmage, 11 total touchdowns, a top-end finish as a fantasy running back, etc.
It's fair to say Austin Ekeler's assessment from early in the season was accurate. Gibbs had some development to do as a runner. The numbers show he indeed improved over the course of the season, as he effectively took over as the Lions' lead back.
Lions general manager Brad Holmes had a few days to calm down after a fiery season-ending press conference before doing a season-ending interview with Dannie Rogers of Lions.com. Gibbs was a topic, and Holmes naturally had a lot to say about him. But the punch line of what Holmes said about Gibbs serves as a warning to the rest of the league.
"He’s (Gibbs) gonna be better next year, like this was just scratching the surface of what he did this year," Holmes said. "Next year’s gonna be even better which is scary."
Jahmyr Gibbs gets even more praise after excellent rookie season
When asked this past week at the Super Bowl to name his top-five running backs in the NFL, excluding himself of course, Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson had Gibbs at No. 4.
Another of Gibbs' young running back peers, Breece Hall of the New York Jets, also ranked him highly in his top-five.
Hall also had Lions' running back (and fellow Iowa State alum) David Montgomery in his top-five (tied for fifth).
Writing for NFL.com, Maurice Jones-Drew ranked all the starting running backs from the 2023 season, 1-72. He had Montgomery at No. 8, and Gibbs at No. 10.
"Gibbs proved more than worthy of his first-round draft slot, regularly running circles around defenses with the ball in his hands. (Not to brag, but I was ahead of the curve on this back). He showed his knack for big plays and scoring, helping the Lions claim their first division title in three decades. Gibbs is a cornerstone to build around."
Jones-Drew did have Gibbs as his No. 1 running back in last year's draft, hence the "ahead of the curve" comment. The Lions seem to have had Gibbs as their top running back in the 2023 draft, and other teams may have too.
In any case, Gibbs showed all kinds of star potential as a rookie and another level could be coming in Year 2.