Bijan Robinson Draft Profile
There are few prospects who are as clean and well-rounded as University of Texas running back, Bijan Robinson. He is everything a team could want in a running back, he checks every box. Before I get into the type of player that he is, let’s talk about how he got here. Born and raised in Southern Arizona, Robinson attended Salpointe Catholic High School where he won Arizona Gatorade Football Player of the Year and was ranked as a five-star prospect. While he played well as a true freshman for the Longhorns, Robinson exploded on to the scene as a sophomore in 2021. In that season, Robinson ran for over 1,100 yards and had 15 total touchdowns. He parlayed his sophomore year success into an even better junior season where he ran for over 1,500 yards and had 20 total touchdowns. In 2022, Robinson won the Doak Walker Award for best running back in college football and was voted as an Unanimous All-American. While what Robinson does on the field is mesmerizing, he is also incredibly savvy off the field. Following the 2021 season, Robinson took full advantage of the new NIL landscape of college football. He was able to generate over $1.5 million and had brand deals with all sorts of different companies from Lamborghini to his own line of “Bijan Mustard”. Robinson radiates confidence, is sharp in front of the microphone, and smart with his business deals. I anticipate Robinson being a star on the field and a poster-boy off the field as a professional.
When Robinson is on the field, nothing seems impossible. His ability to stop on a dime and change directions is rare; that has to do with the mobility of his ankles and strength in his lower-body. He is able to shift his weight and let his momentum take him east to west without any wasted movement. In open-space, Robinson is capable of making defenders miss in multiples ways. He is powerful enough to run linebackers over and quick enough to make defensive backs fall. His power doesn’t just show up when he is lowering his shoulder to run defenders over; it also is apparent when he is tasked with helping out in pass protection. Whether he is picking up a defensive back off the edge or Will Anderson in the A-Gap, Robinson has shown the ability to roll his hips over and save his quarterback from taking a big hit. HIs quickness is also unique in the fact that it has ripple effects. He may take one step to juke out the defender in front of him, but you see other defenders falling down or completely change trajectories 5+ yards away. I consider Robinson to be a creator, Robinson finds holes that didn’t even seem to be there. He has enough wiggle to get skinny in between the tackles, but good enough lateral speed to bend the corner. While Robinson is extremely helpful in pass-protection, he is also a threat as a receiver both out of the backfield and in the slot. Now-a-days, taking a running back earlier is a huge risk, but Robinson is as close to a “sure-fire prospect” as you are going to get.
While Robinson is extremely talented in all aspects, there is one piece of his game that is missing; he doesn’t have break-away speed. When drafting a running back, long speed is one of the biggest things teams look for, and it makes sense. On plays that are blocked perfectly, the running back should score a touchdown, not get tracked from behind. Even though Robinson is able to create plays for himself, his speed sets limitations on what he is capable of doing. The only other knock I have on Robinson is that he can get too lateral, which takes yards off the board. I want to see him go downhill more rather than try and juke people out of their shoes every play.
It is not every year that running backs enter the draft as “pro-ready” as Bijan Robinson. While I had better overall ratings for Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, and Najee Harris coming out, Robinson is still in that tier of prospects. Even though the half-life of a running back isn’t what it used to be, I still have a hard time seeing Robinson falling out of the top-25. He is an instant impact player who is too good of a player not to be picked in the first round. At Texas, the offense was mostly gap scheme, but I believe his abilities are better fitted in a zone-running scheme. While he is capable of playing in any scheme, his combination of change of direction and vision makes him a great fit for a team like the Cardinals or Rams who will need someone to carry their offense in what looks to be a rebuild. The way in which he carries himself and makes something out of nothing reminds me of Barkley. While he isn’t as fast as him, I believe Robinson can be a similar type of cornerstone for a franchise.
Play Strength + Toughness: 10.75/12
Long Speed + Lateral Speed: 8.25/10
Feet + Change of Direction: 9.75/10
Quickness + Open Field: 9/10
Burst + Acceleration: 6.25/8
Receiving Ability: 5.25/6
Athletic Ability: 4.75/5
Final Rating: 90
Pro Comparison: Saquon Barkley
Draft Projection: Top 25 Pick
Draft Grade: Top 10 Player
Team Fits: Cardinals, Rams, Bengals