Ron Rivera remains high on Antonio Gibson heading into 2023
The Washington Commanders have an exciting and deep backfield heading into 2023. Last year’s third-round pick, Brian Robinson Jr., had an excellent rookie season despite being shot twice in the leg just before the season began.
In last month’s 2023 NFL draft, the Commanders selected Kentucky running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. in the sixth round. And according to head coach Ron Rivera, new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy had a big say in Rodriguez’s selection.
“I know Eric really liked Christopher [Rodriguez Jr.], so that was one of the pluses for when he was available when we were picking,” Rivera said Friday after rookie minicamp.
Remember, Bieniemy is a former unanimous All-American running back and played the position for nine seasons in the NFL. He knows running backs.
While it’s easy to get excited about Robinson and Rodriguez, Rivera cautioned everyone not to forget about Antonio Gibson. Gibson was Washington’s third-round pick in 2020 and was outstanding in his first two NFL seasons, but his fumbling issues in 2021 led to Washington looking for more help in the backfield last offseason.
With J.D. McKissic gone due to a neck injury, Gibson, a former college wide receiver, will continue to see more of a role in the passing game. It’s that dual role in which Gibson could truly excel.
“I’d like to see Antonio get a few more tries, obviously last year, but Antonio’s shown tremendous growth and we’re pretty excited about who he could be,” Rivera said. “This is a guy that played wide receiver at one time coming out and one thing that he did have was every nine touches resulted in a touchdown, so we’re looking for some production from him as well and we’re looking to see that he does fit in into the scheme of things as far as what Eric Bieniemy wants to do with the offense.”
Rivera wasn’t asked about Gibson either. He was talking about Rodriguez and made sure to let everyone know that Gibson is around and will play a big role in Washington’s offense under Bieniemy in 2023.
If he can remain healthy, Gibson could cash in next offseason when he is scheduled to become a free agent.