The Detroit Lions are amid a historic season, winning the NFC North for the first time in franchise history and preparing to host the first playoff game in Ford Field chronology. However, two Detroit rookies also made their mark in the NFL record books after a stellar start to Sunday’s matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. Per Pro Football Focus, Detroit rookies Sam LaPorta and Jahmyr Gibbs became the first pair of rookies with 10+ touchdowns each in league history.
The first pair of rookies with 10+ touchdowns each in NFL history:
Jahmyr Gibbs and Sam LaPorta 🦁 pic.twitter.com/THv8thBr5H
— PFF (@PFF) January 7, 2024
The Lions received much criticism for drafting Gibbs with the 12th overall pick in last year’s draft. Meanwhile, Detroit selected LaPorta early in the second round. LaPorta posted lackluster numbers in college, primarily contributing to playing for the offensively challenging Iowa Hawkeyes.
Detroit Lions Jahmy Gibbs: Making Good on Early Round Pick
Gibbs has become a godsend for the Detroit Lions, entering Week 18 with 1,231 scrimmage yards and ten touchdowns through 14 games. He averages a robust 5.6 yards per touch. The Alabama product has two 100-rushing games on the season. He scampered for 152 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries against the Las Vegas Raiders in late October and rushed for 100 yards and a score against the Denver Broncos in mid-December. Both games resulted in Detroit victories. Including Week 18, Gibbs has scored six touchdowns in his last five games.
Gibbs was the second running back selected in the 2023 NFL draft, going four picks after the Atlanta Falcons’ Bijan Robinson. Gibbs averages a higher yards per carry and barely trails Robinson in total yards.
Detroit Lions TE Sam LaPorta: Starring as Rookie
LaPorta did not get the memo that rookie tight ends struggle to adjust to the NFL. Instead, the Iowa product entered Week 18 with 81 receptions, 860 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns. LaPorta has snagged at least three catches in all but one game this season. His best game of the year came against the New Orleans Saints in early December, snagging nine receptions for 140 yards and a score. He also shined against the Denver Broncos in mid-December, catching three touchdowns.
The Detroit Lions made LaPorta the second tight end selected off the board, with the Buffalo Bills taking Dalton Kincaid nine picks earlier. The Las Vegas Raiders also took fellow tight end Michael Mayer one pick after LaPorta. LaPorta dwarfs the other two in receptions, yards, and touchdowns.