The Falcons received a ton of flack for taking a running back with the 8th overall pick, despite Bijan Robinson being a generational prospect.
Atlanta was sold on the player as much as the person, which many pundits conveniently overlook when criticizing the selection. Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot want stand-up humans, like it or not. The Falcons aren’t going to take a risk on a guy because of his tangibles; intangibles matter just as much to this new regime.
There are some valid concerns, but these dont make the list. Most importantly, considering Robinson a running back doesn’t accurately describe his skill set. An offensive weapon is more appropriate. Secondly, the Falcons didn’t neglect the defense; they spent the majority of their cap space bolstering that side of the ball.
A fair assessment pertains to Bijan Robinson’s rookie contract and potential second deal. Joel Corry, a former NFL agent, projected Robinson’s rookie contract:
As the 8th overall pick, Bijan Robinson's fully guaranteed 4-year rookie deal should be $21.958M, which includes a $12,969,848 signing bonus.
— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) April 28, 2023
That would pay Robinson around $5.5 million per season and would put him just outside the top 10 running back salaries in terms of AAV. That’s not a terrible price to pay for a potential top 5 player at his position, but the second contract is where things get interesting. Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reported an interesting nugget pertaining to the Falcons’ thought process in drafting Bijan Robinson.
“What you’ll see from teams like [Atlanta and Detroit] is, take an RB in the first round, then turn around and take another one in 3-4 years and don’t worry about the silly stuff,” an NFL personnel director said.
First-rounders, particularly top-10 picks, are supposed to be franchise pillars that will undoubtedly earn a second contract with the club. It seems the Falcons aren’t operating under that thinking. It’s concerning, to say the least, especially for a club that has already had a few notable missteps.
Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire
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