The Falcons added a six-player draft class over the weekend, but the gem of the cycle was Bijan Robinson, who Atlanta landed with the 8th overall pick.
The superstar from Texas is arguably the best running back prospect over the last decade and was easily the best player available, considering Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith had taken Jalen Carter off their big board. Still, that hasn’t stopped Falcons fans from finding issues with the selection, who legendary reporter John McClain described as “clueless.”
If you don’t know who John McClain is, let me teach you something. This guy has been covering football since the Texans were the Oilers and holds prominent positions on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Seniors Committee, and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame Selection Committee.
There might not be a more well-regarded member of football media than McClain. When he speaks, everyone listens. And Falcons fans should as well.
Sure, Bijan Robinson’s positional value might give some pause, but looking at the pick in a vacuum will never net a complete and rational analysis — context matters.
First and foremost, the fans that still can’t get over passing on Jalen Carter in favor of a running back need a dose of reality. The Falcons place emphasis on who the person is as much as who the player is, and Carter was littered with red flags as a prospect.
That’s not to say the Georgia product isn’t going to have a successful career because I think he will thrive in Philadelphia, but things would have been more difficult in Atlanta. The Eagles’ culture is well established, with a strong crop of veterans to mentor Carter. Moreover, he’ll join a slew of former teammates to help guide him as well.
Bijan Robinson is a buttoned-up prospect, whom the Falcons won’t have to worry if he’s going to show up on Tuesday with the same intensity and focus as he does on Sundays, whereas Carter has that concern.
Secondly, Falcons fans point to the lousy sack totals of the last couple of years as another point against the selection. It’s as if the draft is the only thing that matters in their eyes. In reality, the Falcons spent a bulk of their salary cap space on defense, adding impact players at all three levels — Jessie Bates III, Kaden Elliss, David Onyemata, Calais Campbell, and more. The defense will be much improved.
The third-most popular narrative that Falcons fans use against the Bijan pick is Tyler Allgeier. The former fifth-round pick broke franchise records and looked like one of the quickest-ascending players in football, but this selection doesn’t mean Allgeier will be relegated to the bench. In fact, it will benefit him in the long run.
The Falcons plan on running the ball, so having a stable of backs is necessary. Allgeier isn’t the Derrick Henry-esque bellcow back that can take a beating on 350+ carries. A combination of Allgeier and Robinson will keep each healthy while keeping defenses off balance. The receiving ability of Robinson will force opposing coordinators into difficult scenarios where they have to respect him as a runner as well as a pass catcher. It gives Arthur Smith a bevy of chess pieces.
For example, Atlanta can come out with 22 personnel — Kyle Pitts, Jonnu Smith, Drake London, Cordarrelle Patterson/Allgeier, and Robinson. This would force the defense to get bigger in the box to defend the run, but two running backs that can act as receivers will open up an entirely new part of Smith’s offense. If defenses choose to get bigger, the Falcons pass; if they stay in subpackage personnel, Atlanta will run the ball. There will be an excess of mismatches.
Stop thinking of Bijan Robinson as a running back and more as a weapon.
You must log in to post a comment.