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Lions LB Alex Anzalone on Jahmyr Gibbs-Alvin Kamara comparisons: 'It's hard to judge when we're in pajamas'

Entering the 2023 draft process, the most common comparison for Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs was New Orleans Saints playmaker Alvin Kamara.

Early in the offseason, Gibbs, a first-round pick by the Detroit Lions, is already showing why the assessment exists, taking a quick slant this week during mandatory minicamp for a would-be 60-plus-yard touchdown.

Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone, who played with Kamara for four seasons in New Orleans, however, pumped the brakes a bit on the Gibbs-Kamara comparisons in early June.

"I think A.K.'s a little bigger, thicker. He's like 215-ish. And yeah, he's a little taller," Anzalone told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. "So I'd say size-wise, no. I think Gibbs is a little faster speed-wise, but A.K. has a little like smooth sneakiness to him that it'll be interesting to see (if Gibbs has). It's hard to judge when we're in pajamas. I want to see in a game, when people are going at it."

Kamara has about 16 pounds on Gibbs, which helps the Saints back slide off tackles. But Gibbs' speed can be a difference-maker, running a 4.36 40-yard dash (Kamara ran a 4.56 40 at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine).

How the Lions use Gibbs will be the most notable takeaway this offseason, into training camp and the preseason. After selecting the back No. 12 overall, the Lions brass insisted he was more than just an RB, but a multifaceted weapon who can split out wide in the passing game.

Kamara generated 81-plus catches each of his first four seasons in New Orleans. If the Lions get that type of production out of their No. 2 back as a rookie, Detroit will be a dangerous offense.

"I've been a part of New Orleans where we had a piece like that, and yeah, it definitely (causes problems)," Anzalone said. "'Cause even if you're in zone defense, how are you going to match up to it? There are ways to defend it, but it definitely makes an additional (worry). And that's probably what he's going to be best is when he gets the ball in his hands, what does he do with it."

Running backs playing receiver is often a summer trope that putters out come the fall. However, with Gibbs, it might have some staying power -- particularly given Jameson Williams' suspension for the first six weeks of the season.

"He can catch it. He can run it. We're excited about him," quarterback Jared Goff said of Gibbs. "He's done a hell of a job as well as a rookie, learning, picking things up, asking the right questions and can do some special things with the ball in his hands. So we're excited to do that."

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