Allen Park — The Detroit Lions have a new running back. No, not Todd Gurley. In fact, it’s none of free agents or undrafted players who continue to linger on the market. Instead, the team found an in-house solution for its need for roster depth, moving defensive back Godwin Igwebuike to the opposite side of the ball.
“He’ s doing a great job of learning,” teammate D’Andre Swift said after Wednesday’s practice. “He’s real smart, as well. He’s just an all-around natural football player. He looked good out there.”
Undrafted out of Northwestern in 2018, Igwebuike has bounced around the league a bit. Detroit is his fifth NFL stop. He’s appeared in just six games, all in 2018, before signing a futures deal with the Lions in January.
Throughout the early portions of the offseason program, he had been working as a safety, prior to the Lions making a pre-camp switch for the 6-foot, 212-pounder.
While Igwebuike didn’t play running back in college, the position isn’t entirely foreign to him. As a senior at Pickerington North High School just outside Columbus, Ohio, he racked up 1,985 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns. That earned him all-state honors from the Associated Press.
Moving a defensive player to offense has become something of a trend for the Lions. Offensive tackle Matt Nelson played on the defensive line at the University of Iowa, while fullback Jason Cabinda was a linebacker prior to making a switch during training camp last year.
The Lions also previously converted defensive back Jamal Agnew to wide receiver and Nick Bellore from linebacker to fullback a few years back.
Igwebuike is understandably a longshot to make the roster, with Swift, Jamaal Williams and rookie Jermar Jefferson occupying the top of the depth chart. But if the skill set he displayed in high school translates in any way, he could make for an intriguing developmental option for the team’s practice squad.