Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead has never really cared what other people say about investing in the running back position. From picking Todd Gurley 10th overall in 2015 to reportedly being hot after Christian McCaffrey at the 2022 trade deadline, Snead has always been eager when it comes to getting more talented at the running back position. He’s also never cared how much Rams fans have hated some of his day two draft decisions and proudly owns the “F them picks” label that some have given him.
So why wouldn’t Snead be the exact type of GM to take the first or second running back off the board in 2023?
"Jahmyr Gibbs is a 1st rd talent, but will likely go in the Breece Hall/Kenneth Walker range" - Mel Kiper— Jared Tokarz (@JaredNFLDraft) February 8, 2023
Hall and Walker were drafted 36th + 42nd overall
Potential fits in that "range":
AZ #Cardinals at 35th
LA #Rams at 37th (like this fit) *
CAR #Panthers at 40th pic.twitter.com/MrmQJkAlaL
Though Texas running back Bijan Robinson is considered the bar none top player at his position and thought to be going in the top-20 picks, if not top-10, there will be a steep drop off after him. And though there is time for this to change following the combine and pro days, Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs is the clear number two.
He has one hell of a legacy to follow.
Since 2000, Alabama running backs have included Shaun Alexander, Mark Ingram, Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, and Najee Harris, as well as Brian Robinson, Damien Harris, Kenyan Drake, and Eddie Lacy. Apart from Trent Richardson and to a lesser degree T.J. Yeldon, Alabama running backs have done a fairly good job of playing up to or above their draft status.
Gibbs would have been a “Georgia Tech” running back up until transferring to Alabama last year, however. After rushing for 746 yards and 5.2 yards per carry as a sophomore, Gibbs transferred to Alabama in 2022 and had 151 carries for 961 yards, 44 receptions for 444 yards, and averaged 6.1 yards per carry as the team’s all-around second best weapon behind quarterback Bryce Young.
Gibbs could go in the early second round range, but if he’s able to run 4.32 or faster at the NFL combine—the number he said he hit prior to transferring to Alabama—then Gibbs could find himself closer to the Travis Etienne range in the draft. Etienne was the 25th overall pick in 2021 and even he “only” ran a 4.45.
The Rams only have Cam Akers and Kyren Williams as probable members of the backfield for next season and Akers, who has his own set of concerns carrying over to 2023, will be a free agent in 2024. Drafting a running back seems like a luxury for a team with so many needs...
But when has that ever stopped Snead? He drafted Todd Gurley in 2015. In 2015!