Bijan Robinson - RB - Texas
When you think about generational talent in the 2023 NFL Draft Class, Bijan Robinson’s name should immediately come to mind. He’s been deemed the fantasy RB1 by most of the fantasy community and hasn’t even been drafted to an NFL Team yet. He was considered by many as the RB1 in fantasy before the 2022 season even started. He has elite tools at his disposal in all facets of the game, but will he live up to the hype?
Height: 5′ 11″
Weight: 215 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.46s
3-cone drill: DNP
20-yard shuttle: DNP
Vertical Jump: 37″
Broad Jump: 10-4
Bench Press: DNP
*age is at the start of player’s rookie year
Three years ago Bijan Robinson came out of high school as a high five-star recruit and the number one running back recruit in the nation, taking his talents to Austin, Texas for the Texas Longhorns. He already had good size at 6’0” and 200 lbs as a true freshman and was an immediate impact in the backfield from day one. He led the team in rushing yards with 703 yards, and then added 4 touchdowns, 15 receptions, 196 receiving yards, and 2 more receiving touchdowns in a relatively down year at Texas (7-3). The following year was Steve Sarkisian’s first year as the Longhorn’s head coach and Bijan was the only bright spot on the team. He was already pushing for the RB1 in this draft class, but this year cemented the thought that it was him and then everyone else behind. He excelled on the ground with his first 1,000+ yard rushing season (1,127) and 11 touchdowns. And once again he contributed through the air with 26 receptions, 295 yards, and 4 touchdowns. He earned his first First-team All-Big 12 title.
As the generational talent and defacto RB1 in the upcoming draft class, he followed up his impressive 2021 season with an even better 2022 season. This past year, as a true junior, he ran for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns and once again was a threat in the receiving game with 19 receptions, 314 yards, and 2 touchdowns. His tape versus Alabama was a master class in what happens when you commit to stopping Bijan on the ground – he gets his through the air just as well. He once again was awarded First-team All-Big 12 honors and, rightfully so, declared for the 2023 NFL Draft.
There’s a good reason there is all this hype surrounding Bijan Robinson. He’s a complete player with a lot of elite skills. His vision and burst are top tier, not just for this class, but top tier compared to many classes in recent years. He is patient behind the line of scrimmage and seems to always find a lane to utilize his elite acceleration to burst through the opening. His sturdy base and a solid center of gravity allow him to change direction with ease, making defenders completely whiff on attempts to tackle him. Simply, you shouldn’t be able to move the way his prototypical frame suggests at 6’0” and 222 lbs. And when there is nothing there in front of him, he somehow consistently makes something out of nothing and gets plus yardage. Whether that is making defender(s) miss in the backfield, or keeping his legs churning through the line to pick up plus yardage as it always takes multiple defenders to bring him down and he always falls forward. His combination of lateral ability, vision, burst, and physicality make him an elite threat on the ground.
But it’s not just his game as a rusher that makes him an elite player at the running back position. In pass protection, he is a legitimate blocker and a stone wall to get through. He has reliable hands and consistently catches away from his body with soft hands. After the catch, he takes his rushing ability and utilizes it in the open field by making defenders miss and even showing off his long speed. He really improved his game as a pass catcher in 2022 and became more than just an outlet option, running legitimate routes and even showing the versatility to line up out wide.
Are there any? Honestly, there are always things to mention here as these players are prospects coming out of college. But the negatives to Bijan’s game are super nitpicky. He could make improvements as a pass protector as this is always an area that most running backs need improvement as incoming rookies. And his long speed isn’t great as he’ll get caught by the faster DBs in the league. But nonetheless, he can create big plays and is a threat to take it to the house in the right situation.
Pre Draft Analysis
Expected Draft Capital- Round 1
Running backs in the first round are much more uncommon in today’s NFL as it appears teams are catching on that running backs just isn’t the position that drives success. They are luxury picks that do provide value when you get truly elite talents, but otherwise are fairly replaceable outside of fantasy football. But Bijan is considered a generational talent, and rightfully so. Meaning that he is more than likely a first-round pick, but it would be surprising to see him taken in the early first.
The Philadelphia Eagles make a lot of sense. They are potentially losing a lot of players on that defense in free agency. But we’ll also have to see who they bring in during the offseason to make a good assessment of their needs because there really isn’t a lot from last year’s roster. Miles Sanders is one of those free agents and Kenny Gainwell doesn’t appear to be in favor with the Eagles to become a workhorse. Bijan could fit perfectly into that workhorse role and add just another dynamic dimension to this offense that is already filled with elite talent. The Ravens and Giants are both spots that make sense even though it is probably more likely that they take wide receivers in the first round. But with the depth of the position and assuming the top-end prospects at the position are gone, they could both wait it out to the second round. The same could be said for the running back position for both teams. Although, Bijan could be a perfect player to pair with Lamar Jackson assuming they resign or tag him. And he would be a walk-in replacement for Saquon Barkley to support Daniel Jones assuming they resign him.
Post Draft Analysis
Atlanta Falcons – Round 1, Pick 8
The Atlanta Falcons have a lot of needs, yet at the same time have a lot of young and talented players. Their offensive line seemed to click last season with mostly young talent, to add onto that they also have Kyle Pitts, Drake London, and Desmond Ridder who have all shown promise. On defense, they have added some veteran presences to add to AJ Terrell who is becoming one of the league’s top corners. Despite Tyler Allgeier being one of the only rookies to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards, Atlanta didn’t hesitate to add another dynamic weapon to this offense. Bijan will be vital in keeping pressure off Ridder and keeping the opposing defense honest. Since the team is giving Ridder a shot, surrounding him with talent makes a ton of sense even if it doesn’t line up with positional draft values.
As mentioned in the last section, Allgeier was one of two rookie running backs to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards last season, but he was still a late round prospect last year. The Falcons have finally gotten their offensive line together and per PFF, had a top 3 run-blocking offensive line in the league. They even added to that offensive line in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft. Bijan is landing in a great situation where he is undoubtedly going to be the bell cow in this offense. Allgeier will serve as a change of pace back, but there is no reason to think that Bijan will get less than 20 touches a game as soon as he’s acclimated to the league. And that might be a few weeks as we do see even the best running backs take just a bit of time to get going.
Even in redraft leagues, Bijan has a great chance to be a top-12 running back from the get-go. He has minimal competition in the backfield and at this point, Ridder hasn’t shown to be a difference-maker. The team will lean on Bijan and the Falcon’s head coach, Arthur Smith, is the same coordinator that fed Derrick Henry the ball in Tennessee from 2019-2020 (Henry’s only years over 300 rushing attempts except for 2022). In Dynasty Leagues, Bijan is already a consensus top 3 running back, if not higher. There is no reason for his stock to drop despite a catastrophic injury. Breece Hall is not the prospect Bijan is but is still considered a top 3 dynasty running back despite an, albeit clean, ACL tear last season.