Playmakers figure to highlight the early rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft, from quarterbacks like Bryce Young and Anthony Richardson to wide receivers like Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Zay Flowers to the cream of the crop at the running back position, Bijan Robinson. Somewhat lost in the shuffle is Alabama’s star running back Jahmyr Gibbs who certainly deserves the attention that these other prospects are receiving. Gibbs brings dynamic playmaking ability to a backfield and is sure to make an NFL team very happy. Let’s dive into his tape!
Strengths: Gibbs is a dynamic athlete at the running back position. He possesses an elite burst that allows him to hit the hole and beat defenders to the second level. Gibbs’s cutting ability is unmatched, as he makes extremely sudden cuts at full speed that make him very difficult to tackle in space. He is a very quick player who excels at bouncing runs outside and beating defenders to the perimeter. Gibbs also possesses elite speed, showing the ability to win footraces to the end zone. He is truly a threat to house it on any touch. Gibbs runs with really good patience and vision, following blocks correctly to maximize the yardage to be gained. Gibbs is an elite receiving threat for a running back. He is highly experienced in the passing game and can line up in the slot and out wide in addition to receiving out of the backfield. His athletic traits allow him to run quick, crisp routes, which is rare for a running back. Gibbs has soft hands and turns upfield instantly after the catch, allowing his burst to gift him extra yardage. He is a very smart receiver as well, as he finds soft spots in zone coverage and works well with his scrambling quarterback to uncover late in the play. Gibbs is also effective in pass protection, demonstrating respectable effort and technique. Despite being a star running back at both Georgia Tech and Alabama in his collegiate career, Gibbs has little tread on his tires with just 368 career carries. Gibbs adds return value on special teams.
Weaknesses: Gibbs is a slimmer running back, and leaves much to be desired in regard to his lower body strength and power. He generally relies on evading contact than running through contact and is often tackled at first contact at the level of his ankles. As a result, he is not very effective in short-yardage situations. Gibbs’s smaller stature may also sacrifice his durability in the NFL, as it has with other running backs at the professional level. Gibbs runs with too much of an east/west mindset rather than a north/south mindset at times, aiming at bouncing runs outside when there is a viable running lane between the tackles. While this often worked for him in college, this running style is less conducive to NFL success.
Bottom Line: Gibbs is an exciting prospect who will be one of the most electric playmakers on an NFL offense as soon as he joins a roster. His burst, suddenness, and speed make him a big-play threat as a runner. As a receiver, Gibbs brings a lot of value due to his experience, savvy, and athletic traits. Gibbs does lack an imposing build, however, and it shows in his relatively low levels of power and lower-body strength. His best fit is in a two-man running back duo as the lightning to another player’s thunder, much like D’Andre Swift to Jamaal Williams for the Detroit Lions. Gibbs can thrive in this role, offering explosive playmaking while avoiding the wear and tear of a heavy workload and the necessity to convert short-yardage carries.