The Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions will square off on Sunday in Week 3. The Falcons-Lions clash isn't the most exciting game on the schedule, but it is set to feature rare running back history. Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs are both rookies who were selected near the top of the 2023 NFL Draft. It's a rare occurrence when two rookies selected within the top 12 of a draft battle one another, per Greg Auman of FOX Sports.
“So to have two RBs drafted in top 12 playing each other as rookies (like Robinson-Gibbs on Sunday) has happened only 3 times in last 33 years. Before that, you had epic battle in 1989: Barry Sanders gets 1 yard on five carries, Tim Worley gets 0 on five carries in Steelers win,” Auman reported.
Three times in the last 33 years? That is incredible to say the least. Auman later revealed that the last time two rookie running backs who were selected within the first 12 picks of the draft played each other during their rookie seasons came in 2000, when Jamal Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens and Thomas Jones of the Arizona Cardinals went head-to-head.
Falcons-Lions: Bijan Robinson vs. Jahmyr Gibbs
Robinson, who was selected by the Falcons out of Texas with the eighth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, has impressed early in his career. Meanwhile, Gibbs, a Georgia Tech and Alabama product, was selected 12th overall in the 2023 NFL Draft by the Lions. He's mostly worked in a versatile role for Detroit and has potential to be a key player.
Robinson and Gibbs are both exciting young players with high-ceilings. It would not be surprising to see them both perform well on Sunday. Perhaps battling one another may lead to extra motivation.
In an era where running backs are often overlooked and underrated, this Falcons-Lions clash will be all about the running backs.