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Hall-of-Fame RB Urges Broncos to Draft Alabama Weapon Jahmyr Gibbs

The Denver Broncos would be very lucky to land Jahmyr Gibbs.

Denver Broncos GM George Paton stated at the NFL Combine a few weeks back that he “anticipates” running back Javonte Williams to be available come the regular-season opener this fall. 

Given the severity of Williams' injury suffered in Week 5 last season and the regular season still being months away, it's hard to believe anyone would know for certain whether Williams could be back by then. Even if he is on the active roster, it might be best to protect him and slow-play his return. 

Meanwhile, Denver needs a Plan B, and as Paton stated, “We’ll have another back or two to be ready if he (Williams) can’t go.”

Williams or not, the Broncos needed to address the running back position this offseason. The team did sign veteran running back Samaje Perine to a two-year, $7.5 million contract, as well as Tony Jones Jr, but even with those additions, the Broncos could and should still consider fortifying the position this offseason.

Hall-of-Famer LaDamian Tomlinson recently dished on which teams he believes still need to add to their running back room with an early draft pick in the upcoming NFL draft. According to Tomlinson, the Broncos are arguably one of the top teams in need of further running back reinforcements. 

So who does Tomlinson believe the Broncos should target early in the draft at running back? None other than Alabama's weapon Jahmyr Gibbs. Tomlinson describes Gibbs as “an explosive playmaker” who reminds him of a similarly light-but-explosive backfield weapon in Jerrod McKinnon.

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Tomlinson says that Gibbs “can catch out of the backfield… very quick inside and outside, and can make people miss… (Gibbs) does a really good job catching the football with his hands.”

Gibbs would be an excellent addition and an incredible jolt to the Broncos' offense in 2023. While slender for a running back at 5-foot-11 and 200-pounds, he produced at an incredible level for the Crimson Tide last season, carrying the ball 151 times for 926 yards (6.1 avg) and seven rushing touchdowns.

Gibbs' skill set in the passing game is what really makes him stand out. Hauling in 44 receptions last season for 444 yards (10.1 avg) and three touchdowns, he wound up as one of the most efficient and explosive offensive skill-position players in the SEC in 2022.

Gibbs’ body type and skill set likely mean he will never be a heavy rushing total back, but with Williams in Denver and Sean Payton calling the offense, that's more than fine. The only caveat for Gibbs landing in Denver is that it would be rather surprising to see him available when the team is finally on the clock with picks No. 67 and 68. 

Gibbs’ current average mock draft slot sees him leaving the board at No. 32 overall, so falling to Denver does not seem likely, and trading up for a back does not seem feasible.

Tomlinson pointed to the Williams injury as a major reason why Denver should be adding another player to the room this offseason because “he might take some time to get back fully healthy.” Expecting Williams to be ready for Week 1 as a bell-cow-type back simply doesn't make sense. 

Williams has never been a bell-cow back, including during his time at North Carolina, where he shared a backfield with Michael Carter. Before his injury in Denver, Williams split carries with Melvin Gordon. 

Tomlinson also pointed to Payton’s usage of running backs. With such talents as Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, Deuce McAllister, Darren Sproles, and Reggie Bush all producing big seasons for the New Orleans Saints, it's safe to say Payton still relies on and values the position. 

Not only has Payton leaned on the running back in both the run and pass game but, as Tomlinson points out, “he’s always had two running backs in his backfield” with a preference for having a strong running back committee.

Luckily for Denver, NFL Network's draft guru Daniel Jeremiah says he has "13 backs with top-three-round grades”. There will be talented backs for Denver to select throughout the entire draft. 

We'll find out who'll be available and when/if Paton drafts a running back, but as Tomlinson emphasized, the Broncos' new head coach has historically utilized multiple guys. That means Denver will need to make more moves to get to that point with this current roster.

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