Bijan Robinson: NFL’s Next RB Star for Falcons or Bengals?

Bijan Robinson’s leap from the Texas Longhorns to the NFL has been nothing short of spectacular. As the No. 8 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, he’s already turning heads with his explosive debut. In this article, we’ll dive into Robinson’s early impact with the Atlanta Falcons and how his unique skill set is reshaping their offense.

From his remarkable college career to his first steps on the professional gridiron, Robinson’s journey is a testament to his talent and the rich legacy of running backs from Texas. Stay tuned as we explore what makes Bijan Robinson a name to watch this NFL season.

Background of Bijan Robinson

Early Life and High School Career

Bijan Robinson’s journey to the NFL began in Tucson, Arizona, where he quickly became a high school legend. His tenure at Salpointe Catholic High School was marked by record-breaking performances, which solidified his reputation as one of the nation’s top running back prospects. Robinson’s exceptional talent was recognized with the Ed Doherty Award—Arizona’s most prestigious high school football honor—not once, but twice, making him the first player in state history to achieve this distinction.

His high school stats were nothing short of remarkable:

  • Arizona’s career all-time touchdown leader with 114 scores
  • Leading rusher with 7,036 yards
  • Surpassed 2,000 rushing yards for three consecutive seasons

Robinson’s senior year saw him dominate the field, rushing for 2,235 yards with an astounding average of 17.7 yards per carry. His ability to influence a game was undeniable, as he also made significant contributions in the receiving game and on special teams.

College Career at the University of Texas

When Robinson arrived at the University of Texas, expectations were sky-high, and he did not disappoint. In his three seasons with the Longhorns, from 2020 through 2022, he became a cornerstone of the team’s offensive strategy. Robinson’s stats during his tenure at Texas were a testament to his versatility and consistency:

Category Statistic
Rushing Yards 3,410
Rushing TDs 33
Receptions 60
Receiving Yards 805
Receiving TDs 8

Not only did he rank fourth all-time in Longhorn history in rushing yards, but Robinson also claimed the fourth spot in tandem yards with 4,215 and made an impact in the program’s record books in all-purpose yards and points scored.

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Beyond numbers, Robinson’s collegiate achievements included winning the 2022 Doak Walker Award, becoming an unanimous All-American, and finishing ninth in Heisman Trophy voting. It’s also worth noting that he chose Texas despite a fierce recruiting battle, and his 18 career 100-yard games further highlight his enduring impact on the Longhorns’ legacy.

Bijan Robinson’s NFL Draft Prospects

Strengths

Bijan Robinson stands out as an exceptional talent ranked within the top echelon of his class. Robinson scored a 9.83 RAS out of a possible 10.00, placing him 29th out of 1,634 running backs since 1987. His robust build at 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds coupled with a rare combination of athleticism makes him a standout. Atlanta’s choice to draft him with the No. 8 overall pick signals their confidence in his abilities to elevate their offense.

Robinson’s first game in the NFL was nothing short of impressive, amassing 83 all-purpose yards with a touchdown against tough opposition. His proficiency in evading defenders and breaking initial contact is evidenced by his impressive stat of +121 rushing yards over expected, which surpasses Christian McCaffrey’s +104 yards.

Known for his great size, profound acceleration, and excellent change-of-direction skills, Robinson also showcases an aptitude for catching passes and an instinct for identifying holes in the defense. His commendable patience allows him to maximize the impact of every carry, and his contact balance ensures that he remains a difficult target for opposing tacklers.

Key strengths include:

  • Elite acceleration and top speed allowing rapid breakaways
  • Superior stop/start explosiveness and flexibility
  • Proficiency in detecting openings and capitalizing with significant bursts of speed
  • Definite pass-catching abilities with the capacity to execute vertical routes
  • Adept at pass protection with a willingness to engage

Areas of Improvement

Despite his many strengths, Robinson recognizes that there’s room for growth, especially in his transition to the NFL. The primary areas demanding enhancement entail decisiveness in the backfield and the refinement of his pass protection skills. It’s crucial for him to balance his search for major plays with accepting shorter gains when opportunities for long rushes aren’t available.

Robinson’s pass protection, while having shown improvements during his last college season, remains an area he must develop to excel at the professional level. A more aggressive approach toward picking up blitzes and protecting the quarterback will be vital for his well-roundedness as a back.

A steadfast resolve to improve demonstrates Robinson’s awareness of the NFL’s demands. This mindset, paired with his already formidable skills, is set to carve a niche for Robinson in a league increasingly critical of first-round running backs. With consistent progress, there’s a clear pathway for Robinson to evolve into an even more dynamic and essential component of his team’s offense.

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Comparisons to Past NFL Running Backs

When discussing rising stars in the NFL, comparisons to legendary players often provide context and a yardstick for potential. Bijan Robinson’s entrance into the league has drawn such parallels, especially with iconic running backs Adrian Peterson and Saquon Barkley.

Adrian Peterson

Robinson’s football journey mirrors that of Adrian Peterson, a name that resonates with any fan familiar with dominant running back play. Peterson’s explosive running style and ability to change games with his athleticism set a high bar for any newcomer. Like Peterson, Robinson possesses that prime combination of size and agility, essential for a modern NFL running back. His physicality invites direct comparisons to Peterson’s early days, characterized by breaking tackles and accruing significant rushing yards. Their shared propensity for impressive yardage gains reflects an innate ability to find and exploit holes in the defense, hinting at Robinson’s promising future. In Robinson, analysts see a player who could emulate Peterson’s impact, bringing a similar level of excitement and productivity to the field from day one.

Saquon Barkley

In Saquon Barkley, the football world was introduced to a back whose impressive build and nimble footwork defied the norms. Bijan Robinson steps into the league evoking a Barkley-like presence — his elite athleticism and versatility as both a runner and a receiver out of the backfield have been remarkable. Barkley’s reputation for tackling an array of defensive schemes with finesse and force is an aspect of play Robinson has begun to mirror. Despite the modern game’s shift away from prioritizing running backs, Robinson’s skill set surpasses mere rushing; his catching proficiency and elusive running establish him as a dual-threat back, akin to Barkley. With the same dynamic playmaking abilities, Robinson’s presence on the gridiron could see him paralleling the success Barkley found early in his career.

Projected Landing Spots for Robinson in the NFL

As the draft draws near, Bijan Robinson’s potential impact has generated buzz among several teams. His skill set positions him uniquely for the modern NFL, with a number of franchises that could greatly benefit from his talents.

NFL Team 1

A prime landing spot for Robinson could be the Atlanta Falcons. Having the eighth pick in the draft and a need for a transformative playmaker in the backfield, Robinson fits the mold of an elite running back that can rejuvenate their offensive scheme. Atlanta’s recent history with running backs has been a carousel of short-term fixes and unmet potential. The addition of Robinson could stabilize the position and inject a much-needed dynamism into their attack. His ability to split out as a receiver would also complement the Falcons’ existing weapons, making their offense more multifaceted and unpredictable.

Robinson’s versatility would be a boon for Falcons offensive coordinator Dave Ragone. He could deploy Robinson in a variety of sets, ensuring he’s not solely utilized as a traditional running back. His pass protection improvements signal that he’s more than capable of becoming a three-down player for the Falcons.

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NFL Team 2

The Cincinnati Bengals could represent another viable destination for Robinson. After a rampant season culminating in a Super Bowl appearance, the Bengals are on the cusp of firming up their squad into a perennial contender. However, they could improve their offensive firepower with a back like Robinson. His elusive running style and proficiency in making the initial defender miss would be an asset for a team that’s looking to diversify its offensive plays.

With the Bengals’ current running backs facing an uncertain future due to contract situations and durability concerns, Robinson would offer a compelling mix of immediate impact and long-term upside. His catching ability out of the backfield complements Joe Burrow’s quick-passing game, and his route-running prowess could unlock new dimensions in Zac Taylor’s offensive strategy. Adding Robinson could well tilt the scales definitively in the Bengals’ favor as they look to evolve their offense and maintain their ascendancy in the AFC.

His strengths as a pass-catcher and his open-field agility would give the Bengals options on third down and in the red zone, areas where they’ve been seeking improvement. The thought of pairing Robinson with existing talents in Cincinnati is an alluring proposition that might be too good for the Bengals to pass up.

Conclusion

Bijan Robinson stands out as a shining prospect for the NFL with a skill set that’s tailor-made for today’s game. His potential to make an immediate impact and provide long-term value can’t be overstated. Whether he joins the ranks of the Atlanta Falcons or the Cincinnati Bengals or another team entirely he’s poised to revitalize an offense with his dual-threat capabilities. As the draft approaches teams are no doubt weighing the immense benefits that a player like Robinson could bring to their roster. Whichever team secures him is not just getting a talented athlete but a transformative player who could very well be the next big name in the league.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much money is Bijan Robinson making?

Bijan Robinson, after being the eighth pick in the 2023 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons, signed a contract averaging $5.49 million per year over four years.

Are the Cowboys interested in Bijan Robinson?

The Dallas Cowboys have shown interest in Bijan Robinson, with the team prepared to consider drafting him if he’s available when they pick.

Why is Bijan Robinson paid so much?

Robinson’s sensational performance, including a Unanimous All-American title and the Doak Walker Award, justifies his significant contract as one of the nation’s leading running backs.

Is Bijan Robinson a generational talent?

Yes, Bijan Robinson is regarded as a generational talent, highlighting his skill since joining the Falcons at just 21, signaling a promising career ahead.

How many years did Bijan Robinson play in Texas?

Bijan Robinson played for three years at the University of Texas, participating in 31 games with 28 starts, and is ranked fourth all-time in Longhorns’ history for rushing yards and total touchdowns.

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