A resounding star on the college football stage, Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs is now eligible for the 2023 NFL Draft, and his scouting report is predictably a matter of great interest. We’ve seen Gibbs dice up collegiate defenders for several years, but how does his style translate to the NFL? Is he worth early-round capital, as the hype implies?
Jahmyr Gibbs NFL draft profile
Some players are so productive in high school that they arrive in college with established notoriety. Gibbs was that player. In his career at Dalton High School in Georgia, Gibbs amassed 4,882 yards and 70 touchdowns. 2,554 of those yards and 40 of those scores came as a senior. In one game, he managed 420 yards and eight touchdowns — and he sat out the fourth quarter.
What Gibbs did to ill-fated, ill-equipped high schoolers while at Dalton can be described as nothing short of dominance. That performance played a powerful hand in landing Gibbs in the top 100 of the 2019 recruiting class. A four-star recruit, he had offers from dozens of schools but chose to sign locally with Georgia Tech.
Immediately, and for the next two seasons, Georgia Tech football became synonymous with Gibbs. Over the course of his two campaigns with the Yellow Jackets, Gibbs put up 1,974 yards from scrimmage and 13 total touchdowns. As a sophomore in 2021, he registered 746 yards and four scores on 143 carries, adding 35 catches for 465 yards and two scores through the air.
It goes without saying that Gibbs was a highly-coveted asset when he entered the transfer portal late in 2021. And as they often do with top-end talents, the Alabama Crimson Tide are the ones who earned his allegiance. Gibbs’ next chapter begins in 2022, with his eyes already set on the 2023 NFL Draft.
- Position: Running Back
- School: Alabama
- Current Year: Junior
- Height/Weight: 5’11”, 200 pounds
Jahmyr Gibbs scouting report
Can Gibbs leverage a season at Alabama into an early-round selection, as so many Crimson Tide running backs have done before him? Here’s a look at what Gibbs brings to the table and how the Alabama RB might be valued in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The hallmark of Gibbs’ running style is his athleticism. The Alabama RB has excellent explosiveness coming upfield. Not only does he have great short-area burst, but he can also accelerate very quickly when opening up his strides. Gibbs can generate abrupt forward bursts of momentum when his path is clear, and he has the acceleration capacity to quickly accumulate yards through tight windows.
On top of his explosiveness, Gibbs possesses phenomenal, effortless short-area athleticism, which he can use to tug defenders off-balance. Gibbs is a high-energy mover with elite twitch who quickly recollects his feet after cuts. His twitch affords him awe-inspiring potential energy on each play. Furthermore, Gibbs brings loose hips, which allow him to divert course while maintaining acceleration. Gibbs can use his high-level twitch and agility to flow through congested areas and sneak into the open field.
Just as impressive as Gibbs’ short-area athleticism is how he employs and maximizes it with his vision and creative instincts. Gibbs keeps active feet in congested areas and can slip through contact, staying upright. With his hyper-active feet, the Alabama RB can step through successive arm tackles, maintaining balance and speed. He’ll make defenders pay for subpar tackle attempts.
Going further, Gibbs flashes great reading ability. He can quickly identify holes when tracking to the sideline and burst upfield with decisiveness. The Alabama RB can also process angles quickly in space. He can sense lanes closing swiftly and promptly divert to outlets. Gibbs processes well in tight spaces and can easily identify secondary lanes. He has excellent full-field vision, as well as superb spatial awareness. That awareness is constantly active, allowing him to feel defenders and react in real-time.
Gibbs is an extremely instinctive runner. More than that, however, he also displays situational awareness and discipline. He rarely dances around behind the line of scrimmage in short-yardage situations. And on outside zone runs, he has the instincts to flatten his angle to pass incoming A- and B-gap defenders, then surge upfield when he’s clear. He consistently leads runs with a split-step to prepare for potential moves, has excellent timing with his lateral cuts, and is patient in deconstructing angles.
Gibbs naturally throttles up and down to maximize the space he has, as well as create new windows to exploit. The Alabama RB actively presses close behind blocks, forcing defenders to slow up. By doing so, he takes control of the space allotted and can manipulate angles thereafter.
At 5’11”, 200 pounds, Gibbs isn’t an overly imposing back, but he does at least bring measurable physicality to the fold. The Alabama RB has shown he can utilize stiff arms to push down imbalanced defenders and extend plays. He consistently fights to stay on his feet with active footwork and is willing to lower his shoulder and finish forward on runs. On occasion, Gibbs has also shown he can bounce off contact and absorb blows with his hips and torso.
Part of the appeal of Gibbs rests in his multi-phase ability. The Alabama RB has high-level potential as a pass-catching RB. He already shows impressive nuance, as he can manipulate defender leverage when running routes. He can press outside and then cut back in, and his short-area agility is an asset at stems.
Going further, Gibbs can catch passes with hands extending beyond his frame, then reset his feet for run-after-catch yards. Gibbs quickly shifts from receiving mode to RAC mode. He’s also shown he can corral passes in stride and haul in passes amidst contact.
As an athlete, Gibbs has enough speed to get to the edge on outside runs and turn the corner upfield. He also has the speed to accelerate along unideal angles and get a step on defenders. In pass protection, he has urgent active feet and brings solid effort. He can square up defenders and surge into contact, and he can also identify points of weakness in the protection and respond quickly.
Gibbs’ areas for improvement
Gibbs’ frame is noticeably lean, and he naturally isn’t going to withstand direct contact consistently. The Alabama RB isn’t an overwhelming physical specimen and visibly lacks a bruiser element. Moreover, while he has exceptional short-area explosiveness and speed, he might not be quantifiably elite in either area.
Operationally, Gibbs occasionally misses open cutback lanes, deferring to congested areas in the middle of the field. He sometimes goes on auto-pilot in short ranges and gets tunnel vision when things tighten up. Additionally, Gibbs will sometimes play himself into congestion with wasted motion. His wasted motion shows up even when there are lanes to follow at times. The Alabama RB tries too hard to create space instead of using the space he has at times and can be more concise and efficient.
In the passing phase, Gibbs sometimes loses track of the ball when streaking downfield. He can also better attack the ball at the catch point, as he sometimes lets it come to him and invites contact. Gibbs also occasionally bobbles passes, which can delay transitions upfield on swings and screens. Furthermore, he experiences some lapses in ball security after the catch.
Gibbs’ need for added strength also shows up when pass blocking. The Alabama RB can be outmuscled and put on skates with his lighter frame, and he struggles to sustain blocks consistently.
Current draft projection for Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs
As of now, Gibbs is a high-end Day 2 prospect with late Round 1 upside if he dominates at Alabama. The NFL wouldn’t always have accepted a running back like Gibbs. But this is 2022. Long gone are the days of ground-and-pound and down-to-down trench warfare against eight-man boxes. The NFL is a game of space now, and it’s a game that Gibbs is built to win.
At 5’11”, 200 pounds, Gibbs is noticeably light and likely won’t ever win consistently with his size. But Gibbs’ game is predicated on his elite twitch and agility, supremely loose hips and flexibility on cuts, and his ability to explode upfield after levying cuts with lightning-quick feet.
Gibbs’ short-area athleticism is rare, and he knows how to use it. While he has room to use his tools more efficiently, he’s shown he has the vision, quick processing, and creative instincts to maximize and create space all at once in reps. Although he’s not a bruiser, he at least brings willing physicality, as well as balance through arm tackles. And if he can clean up a few inconsistencies in the passing game, he has near-elite upside as a receiving back.
At his maximum, Gibbs can have an impact similar to Jamaal Charles, albeit with slightly lesser top-end speed. Gibbs has a very similar frame, fast play pace, and the same dual-sided short-area manipulation and open-field burst on reps. And while Gibbs doesn’t have the same speed, his frame could end up being stronger than Charles’. Bottom line: He’s a weapon very much worth early-round capital.