Outside of what the Falcons will do at quarterback, potentially selecting Bijan Robinson in the first round is the most divisive topic among fans. Lamar Jackson to Atlanta has been discussed ad nauseam, but no legitimate reports suggest the Falcons’ interest in the former MVP. It’s all speculation; however, Bijan Robinson landing with the Falcons is real. Here are the cases for and against the Falcons drafting the Texas product.
The Case for Drafting Bijan Robinson
First and foremost, Bijan Robinson is a generational talent. He’s the perfect combination of size and skill to be the bell cow runner in Arthur Smith’s offense. He was a unanimous first-team All-American and won the Doak Walker Award, given to the best running back in college football. In his 2022 campaign, he posted 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground while adding 314 yards and two scores through the air.
Robinson is reliable as a runner, blocker and receiver. Regardless of the facet of his game you’re analyzing, he’s elite. As a runner, Robinson has incredible contact balance and vision with the acceleration and burst to turn any carry into an explosive play. He can line up wide or in the backfield as a receiver and be productive.
Bijan Robinson is in the same conversation as Saquon Barkley and Todd Gurley coming out of college. If you haven’t seen him play, you don’t understand how talented the young man is. There are probably only a handful of blue chip prospects in the 2023 draft class, and Robinson is undoubtedly one of them.
This leads me to my next point for drafting Robinson — best player available. Positional value is surely a factor in a team’s approach to the draft, but the Falcons remain adamant they’ll be selecting with a BPA approach. And that player could very well be Bijan Robinson.
The most common argument for not drafting him is the presence of Tyler Allgeier, who broke the franchise rookie rushing record with 1,035 yards in 2022. But a counterpoint would be Terry Fontenot’s consistent comments about upgrading any position, regardless of the state.
To that point, consider what a generational talent like Bijan Robinson could do in Arthur Smith’s offense, which ran the ball over 550 times in 2022. Tyler Allgeier is a gem of a find, but the talent discrepancy between him and Robinson is apparent. Allgeier is featured in the Falcons’ offense; Robinson would be the Falcons’ offense.
Arthur Smith’s offense values running backs much more than some other offenses. Just think back to Derrick Henry‘s time in Smith’s scheme with the Titans; he challenged for MVPs. The offense’s engine wasn’t Ryan Tannehill, AJ Brown, or anyone else; it was Henry. The Falcons could very well follow a similar path with Bijan Robinson, Desmond Ridder, Drake London, and Kyle Pitts.
The Case against Drafting Bijan Robinson
This one is pretty easy. The Falcons’ roster is so devoid of talent that any draft pick will more than likely fill a need, except for running back. Atlanta boasts a more than reliable tandem of Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson. The defense desperately needs an influx of talent at all three levels. Using a first-rounder on a running back is, most of the time, a luxury.
Moreover, running backs are possibly the least valuable players in today’s NFL. I believe no running back should get a lucrative second contract because they rarely live up to them — Todd Gurley, Ezekial Elliott, etc. There are many examples. Drafting a player with a top-10 pick and not giving him a second contract isn’t a great business model.
Bijan Robinson is an elite talent and would take the Falcons’ offense to a level that Allgeier and Patterson aren’t capable of, but is the team really in a position to allocate a top-10 pick to a running back? Atlanta will be highly scrutinized if they do select Robinson because of their other needs, but his talent could sway Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot.
Photographer: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire
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