Brian Robinson - RB - University of Alabama
Welcome to the rookie profile for Brian Robinson. Robinson patiently waited his turn to lead the backfield for the Crimson Tide. He filled a complementary role for many years, and then made the most of his final year of eligibility, playing at the level that has become expected from an Alabama running back. Robinson is a battering ram of a running back that showed he is also capable in the passing game this year. Given Robinson’s age, it will be interesting to see how the NFL values him as a prospect.
Height: 6′ 2″
Weight: 225 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.53s
3-cone drill: DNP
20-yard shuttle: DNP
Vertical Jump: 30″
Broad Jump: 119″
Bench Press: DNP
Alabama has had a crowded running back room since Brian Robinson joined the Crimson Tide as a 4-star recruit in 2017. Regardless, he was able to carve out modest work on the field his true freshman year with Damien Harris, Jalen Hurts, Bo Scarbrough, Najee Harris, and Josh Jacobs all commanding carries. Going into his sophomore year, Robinson still had a modest role in the offense with 63 carries for 272 yards, working behind Damien Harris, Josh Jacobs, and Najee Harris. Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs both went off to the NFL following the 2018 season, leaving Najee Harris and Brian Robinson to handle the workload. Alabama went away from its running back by committee and Najee became the workhorse back, leaving minimal carries for Brian Robinson once again in his junior season.
To many’s surprise, Najee Harris returned for his senior season. Once again, leaving Robinson to be the change of pace back during his senior season. Although, Robinson exercised his additional year of eligibility to return in 2021 as a 5th-year senior. He took full advantage of his extra season and finally assumed the workhorse role for the Tide, due somewhat to a very depleted running back room. But, as Alabama workhorse running backs do, Robinson excelled with a huge workload for 270 attempts, 1336 rushing yards, and even showed off his receiving ability with 36 receptions.
Brian Robinson is a battering ram of a running back with the size to match it at 6’1” 228lbs. He is a violent runner that has good power and he consistently fights for extra yards. On top of his power, he has great contact balance and shrugs off defenders easily. He displayed that power often behind the young Alabama offensive line, who had a lot of new faces during the 2021 season.
For a big and powerful back like Robinson, he is surprisingly elusive in tight quarters. He makes defenders miss with slight shifts in his movement which can take defenders off guard. Additionally, he has pretty good vision and burst at the line. He can identify where blocks are setting up more often than not and accelerate well around the line of scrimmage.
As with most power-back types, Robinson seems to lack long, open field speed. Granted, it wasn’t often that he got out into space to showcase his speed, but that was most likely for a reason. And even when he did, he didn’t have burners like some of the top running backs in this class. His change of direction is also lacking. He is more of a lumberer when trying to significantly change direction on a dime. That’s not surprising for a bigger running back and not the way his game wins.
The passing game is a pretty large question mark in regards to Robinson’s game. In pass protection, he can get in the way and use his frame to hold off defenders. At the same time, he tends to lack awareness and miss his assignments. There is also a lack of sample size of his pass-catching ability outside of one out of five years of his college career. That being said, he did show soft hands and the ability to be serviceable in this area. Another small knock is that Robinson lacks the elite athleticism that the top backs generally possess, which hinders his upside considerably.
Pre Draft Analysis
Expected Draft Capital- Round 5
Robinson is a battering ram and prototypical 2-down running back. He has the potential to improve on his three-down skillset, but realistically he won’t be more than a time-share back. He doesn’t possess workhorse upside but can excel as a 1b/or RB3 in a committee, similar to his experience behind Najee Harris or a timeshare back in his early years at Alabama. Teams that could use a complimentary back/depth back include the Denver Broncos (if Melvin Gordon leaves), Washington Commanders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (if Ronald Jones/Leonard Fournette leaves), Arizona Cardinals, or the Buffalo Bills.
Post Draft Analysis
Draft Capital- Round 3, Pick 34
The Brian Robinson pick at the end of the third round is a bit puzzling, but the organization is telling the public what they think about their running back room. Antonio Gibson looked to be a winner early in the offseason, but the Commanders resigned JD McKissic after McKissic’s brief interest with the Buffalo Bills. Then during the NFL Draft, they spent Day 2 Draft Capital on Brian Robinson. They added a volume pass-catcher out of the backfield and a 2-down bruiser. Antonio Gibson still profiles as the best all-around back, but it is curious that the Commanders bring in two backs that will inevitably eat into Gibson’s workload. This makes for a backfield difficult to predict as it’s likely this will be a true running back by committee and each back could cannibalize into each other’s role.
Robinson lands in a crowded running back room with Antonio Gibson, who is a fantasy darling, and JD McKissic, who is a target hog out of the backfield. Robinson profiles as a 2-down bruiser, but is not inept as a pass catcher and is a formidable pass blocker. It seems like enough to eat into the workload of Gibson and even a bit of McKissic, but not quite enough to be fantasy relevant without an injury ahead of him. So for now, Robinson is a handcuff with potential touchdown upside as the primary goal-line back if he earns that role. In dynasty, Robinson is a decent dart throw in the third round banking on his handcuff value or the team moving on from another back. In redraft, it’s best to avoid Robinson unless there is an injury to the backfield and he is available on the waiver wire.