Name: Bijan Robinson
Weight: 215 pounds
Combine Results: 4.46 40-yard dash, 37” vertical, 10’4” broad
Few players have had a draft hype last as long as Bijan Robinson, and it’s been well-earned. The Arizona native committed to Texas in spite of offers from powerhouse programs like Alabama, Ohio State, and Oklahoma. It was considered a monumental win for head coach Tom Herman, who ultimately only got to coach Robinson for one year before being replaced by Steve Sarkisian.
Robinson exploded onto the scene as a freshman, averaging an absurd 8.2 yards per carry. Robinson graduated to a bellcow for the Longhorns under Sarkisian and proceeded to make highlight plays at a ridiculously consistent rate. Plenty of people around the NFL have been patiently waiting for Robinson to be draft eligible, and now he finally is.
Robinson is, unquestionably, the best running back prospect to come into the NFL since Christian McCaffrey or Ezekiel Elliott. But considering neither of those players remain with the original team that drafted them, it’s fair to wonder how high Robinson’s draft stock should be, regardless of whether he really is a generational talent.
Burst: Robinson explodes through holes with a dizzying frequency. His combine numbers in the explosion drills (vertical and broad jump) both placed in the 86th percentile or higher, and he had the third best 10 yard split in the 40-yard dash, highlighting his ability to get up to speed in a hurry. Robinson’s burst isn’t his best trait, which tells you just how all around great he is.
Balance: Robinson runs with great balance, and it’s a key part of his highlight reel style of play. He accumulated 1,071 yards after contact this past season and led the nation in broken tackles with a whopping 104 on the year. He’s exceptionally hard to bring down, regardless of the caliber of defender Robinson is facing.
Lateral Agility: Robinson has impeccable footwork that allows him to move at will in the hole. If there’s an opening to run through, he’ll find it and get to it before pressing on the gas pedal. His combination of lateral agility and patience as a runner helped set up so many of his highlight plays, at which point the other elite traits flash naturally.
Ball Carrying: Fumbles have been a nagging issue for Robinson, though not at a level that meaningfully detracts from all his other positives. Still, Robinson has six fumbles through three years, and multiple fumbles each of the last two seasons. NFL defenses are better at stripping the ball than anyone Robinson has faced in college, so he’ll need to work on his ball security at the next level.
Pass Catching: Robinson wasn’t utilized a ton as a receiver out of the backfield, though he did show promise in this area. He never had more than 26 receptions in a given year, and most of his routes were traditional running back routes. Still, Robinson showed reliable hands with zero drops on the year, and his elusiveness in the open field suggests he could thrive with more usage as a pass catcher in the NFL.
Blocking: Robinson fits the bill as a running back that can hold their own in pass protection. He’s got great size and strength for blocking duties, and showed a great understanding of his blocking assignments throughout his three years at Texas.
Athleticism: Robinson is an elite athlete and a complete package as a running back. His 9.83 Relative Athletic Score was the second highest among running backs at the combine this year, just behind Deneric Prince of Tulsa. From an athletic standpoint, Robinson isn’t going to have any problem adjusting to the NFL.
Processing: Robinson plays with a natural feel for the game, whether he’s taking a handoff or handling blitz pickup. He’s great at surveying the line of scrimmage with the ball in his hand and looking for a hole to burst through. He’s similarly adept at reading defenses in pass protection and figuring out where to be to make the block.
Intangibles: Robinson certainly makes a great case to be labeled a generational talent, and he’s easily the best running back in this draft. But it comes at a time when the position has never been less valuable. Robinson is the full package, and he’s bound to put up numbers wherever he goes. The only real downside with this prospect is the argument of positional value, which is a legitimate argument to be had, but none of it has to do with what Robinson offers NFL teams.