Why Bijan Robinson makes sense for the Falcons

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Bijan Robinson is one of the most polarizing figures in the draft amongst Falcons fans. On one had, he’s a prospect that many are regarding as the best running back to come out of college since Adrian Peterson. Some draft analysts even have him as their top overall prospect in the entire 2023 draft. On the other hand, running back is a position that has become substantially devalued in the draft, and the Falcons have spent their last two top ten selections on skill positions while seemingly neglecting their defense.

I understand the concerns when it comes to the running back position. I also know the defense needs an influx of talented youth if they ever want to become consistently respectable. However, I’m not sure there will be a player available that can make an impact bigger than the one Bijan Robinson can in Arthur Smith’s scheme.

Atlanta’s offense is predicated on running the ball. The Falcons were third last season in rushing yards, averaging nearly five yards a clip on the ground. Their primary running back, rookie Tyler Allgeier, burst onto the scene over the second half of the season and set the franchise single season rushing record for a rookie. They want to pound the rock first and create easy play-action passes for their quarterback off of the running game, and that’s not going to change with Desmond Ridder under center.

I love what Tyler Allgeier brings to the table. He’s a bowling ball of a runner that is never taken down by the first defender and is always falling forward for extra yards. He’s going to have a place in this league for the foreseeable future, but make no mistake about it: he is no Bijan Robinson.

In Bruce Feldman’s latest mock draft for The Athletic, he had Robinson going 10th to the Eagles, which might put that offense over the top as the best in the league. Here’s what Feldman said he’s hearing from coaches regarding the Texas running back.

“Oh my goodness. That kid is unbelievable. Has great vision. Size. Power. He will block. I can’t say enough great things about him. He should’ve left three years ago. He’s so big and strong. He’s going to be an incredible NFL player.”

“His stop-start is pretty special. It’s something you might see in a smaller back, but he’s got that mass and he can run through you. He is impressive. Really good receiver. He’s a bad matchup for a linebacker.”

“He’s so compact! Has patience and great change of direction and change of speed. When the ball is in hands he is elite. Their O-line looked the part, but they weren’t very good in front of him. They were young and so inexperienced. Movement would hurt ‘em. He is great though.”

“I think he was the best player in college football. Watch him. I get why NFL teams aren’t picking a running back in the top five, but man, he’s physical. He has good long speed and is selfless. They used him to block on the perimeter and pass protection and he’s an elite route-runner. He is elite elite.”

In today’s NFL, every rushing attack needs at least two reliable ball carries, if not three. The Falcons have that in Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson, but the latter isn’t going to be around forever. He’s on the wrong side of 30 and on the final year of his contract. The Falcons need to add to the position during this draft cycle, and there might not be better value than Robinson with the 8th pick in the draft.

Think about Arthur Smith’s offenses in Tennessee. He turned Derrick Henry into a perennial MVP candidate and a likely Hall of Famer. Now, Robinson may be a different kind of runner, but the potential remains the same. He would be unstoppable in Atlanta’s offense, and having Allgeier as a compliment would only prolong his NFL career.

I won’t be up in arms if the Falcons don’t end up drafting Robinson. I’m aware there are more pertinent needs, and his positional value is much lower than others. However, the thought of Robinson running wild in the Falcons offense has me salivating, and for a team that continues to stress they are trying to draft the best player available every time they are on the clock, I don’t think there will be a better player than Robinson available with the 8th pick in the draft.

Photographer: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire

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