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Texas RB Bijan Robinson is a top 10 talent, but can NFL GMs draft him that high?

University of Texas running back Bijan Robinson enters the 2023 NFL Draft as one of the most sought after running back prospects in recent history. A legitimate generational talent, Robinson departs the Longhorns as the 2022 Doak Walker Award winner. Robinson earned unanimous All-American honors in 2022.

Only 12 running backs have gone in the first round in the last 10 years, and the last top 10 pick was in 2018. Robinson wants to add his name to that list this April.

Bijan Robinson’s strengths

Robinson is the best running back prospect I’ve scouted since 2018 first-round pick Saquon Barkley. He possesses a prototypical build to experience high-level success at the position. Robinson is an X-factor and game-changer both as a runner and receiver.

As a rusher, Robinson is a patient, technically advanced ball-carrier that scans the action in front of him while allowing his blocks to develop. Once Robinson presses the line of scrimmage, his elite traits are truly on display. Robinson bursts through available rushing lanes and quickly reaches the second level. Robinson possesses terrific contact balance and can make defenders miss in a phone booth. Robinson creates for himself by bouncing off would-be tacklers and creating additional yardage after initial contact.

Robinson is elusive, powerful, and explosive. He truly possesses the option to run through or run around defenders. He can plant his foot in the ground and make lateral cuts that lead to explosive gains. Robinson possesses enough speed to run away from defenders in the open field.

Robinson is an extremely smooth pass-catcher. In fact, he’s so good, I believe he could have entered this draft as a slot receiver. Texas relied on Robinson heavily to make plays coming out of the backfield. Robinson accounted for 60 receptions, 805 receiving yards, and 8 touchdowns. He’s extremely competitive and willing in pass protection, as well. Whoever drafts Robinson will inherit the option to motion Robinson out of the backfield and into a receiver position. Robinson carries true three-down bell-cow potential, which is pivotal in today’s pass-happy game.

Bijan Robinson’s weaknesses

It’s difficult to pinpoint weak spots in Robinson’s complete game. Robinson suffered a season-ending dislocated elbow injury during the 2021 campaign. In 2022, Robinson suffered a minor shoulder injury. As a running back with 599 career touches under his belt, how much tread is on the tires and durability could come into question for some of the more cautious franchises.

Bijan Robinson highlights

Bijan Robinson’s 2023 NFL Combine results

With little to prove, Robinson wasn’t a complete participant at the NFL Scouting Combine. Robinson measured in at a verified 5-foot-11, 215 pounds. Robinson ran the 40-yard dash in a respectable 4.46 seconds with a 1.52 10-yard split. Robinson also posted a 37-inch vertical jump and 10-foot-4 broad jump. Those results led to Robinson scoring an elite Relative Athletic Score of 9.77. Robinson’s MockDraftable athletic comparisons include Jonathan Taylor and Breece Hall.

Robinson didn’t participate at the Texas Pro Day.

What others are saying about Bijan Robinson

Lance Zierlein of NFL.Com had the following to say:

Full-menu back blending a smorgasbord of position-specific traits that allow him to affect games. Robinson is well-built with a compact lower half and pairs a low center of gravity with agile feet. There are elements of both fight and flight in his running style, but defenders can never be quite sure what they are going to get. He’s a capable inside/outside runner with unique footwork to stack moves and reset pathways, but can plow into tacklers at a moment’s notice using elite contact balance to keep the run rolling. He might need to dial back efforts to search out big runs so frequently and take what is there a little more often to keep from getting bogged down. His pass-catching talent ensures the opportunity for Robinson to see a high number of touches. He has a chance to become one of the more productive runners in the league very quickly.

All in all, Robinson is a generational prospect. NFL general managers must decide how highly they value the running back position. The position has lost value in recent years, but an exception should be made for Robinson, who should be a top 10 selection. He’s one of the two best players in the 2023 NFL Draft alongside Alabama pass rusher Will Anderson Jr.

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