Texas running back Bijan Robinson enters the 2023 NFL Draft as the best prospect at the position in quite some time. Will the Longhorn standout hear his name early on day one?
2023 NFL Draft Profile
Name: Bijan Robinson
School: Texas Longhorns
Weight: 222 pounds
The grandnephew of former NFL running back Paul Robinson, a two-time Pro Bowler, Bijan Robinson was a five-star running back out of Tucson, Arizona. Robinson was the highest-rated running back in the 2020 recruiting class at a 0.9928 (from 247 Sports). The first player in Arizona history to win back-to-back Ed Doherty Awards (given to the best player in high school). He is also Arizona’s all-time leader in rushing touchdowns (114) and rushing yards (7,036).
As expected, Robinson was a highly sought-after recruit and ended up committing to the University of Texas over offers from colleges like Ohio State, USC, and Alabama.
Robinson played in nine games as a true freshman, starting in six of them (the final six games of the season). Over that six-game stretch, the Texas superstar carried the ball 86 times for a team-high 703 yards and four touchdowns.
Getting the start as a sophomore, Robinson continued his momentum during the 2021 season, racking up 1,127 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns over ten games. He was named first-team All-Big 12 and was a semi-finalist for many awards; the Doak Walker Award (awarded annually to the nation’s best running back) being among them.
Finally, as a junior in 2022, the do-it-all running back posted one of the best seasons for an offensive player in Longhorns history, recording 1,894 all-purpose yards (seventh in program history) and 18 touchdowns (fifth in program history). As a result, Robinson was rewarded heavily for his performances, being made a unanimous first-team All-American, a unanimous first-team All-Big 12, winning the Doak Walker Award, and finishing ninth in Heisman Trophy voting.
Bijan Robinson is one of the most well-rounded running back prospects in recent memory. His dual-threat ability as a runner and as a receiver out of the backfield, or in the slot for that matter, make him a truly unique weapon and a real headache for NFL defenses. He has a unique blend of speed, power, size, elusiveness, and balance that make him an incredibly difficult player to bring down in the open field.
He possesses incredible contact balance for a player of his size, being able to run through defenders. What separates him from other players with this ability is how he combines this with his burst and speed that make him a home run threat at the same time. Robinson is also a fantastic decision-maker, consistently making the right read behind the line of scrimmage. He makes excellent cuts and his change of direction ability is nothing short of elite.
Finally, his ability to rush behind a subpar offensive line is a trait that NFL teams will value. According to PFF, Texas’ run blocking grade was a measly 59.1, while Bijan’s rushing grade was the second best in the nation, at an elite 96.1.
While incredibly difficult to find, Bijan Robinson does indeed have flaws. His main issue is his pass-blocking ability which is relatively lacking, mainly due to his lack of technique or refinement. However, this should be an easy fix when he gets into an NFL camp and gets attention from an NFL-caliber running back coach.
2023 NFL Draft Grade/Value
Robinson grades out as the best running back I have ever scouted, at a 9.2 on the scale. This means he is a blue-chip player, and my No. 3 overall player in the 2023 NFL Draft class.
A Quick Look at My Grading Scale:
•9.0+: Blue-Chip Prospect
•8.5-8.9: Mid-First Round
•8.0-8.4: Late-First Round
•7.5-7.9: Second Round
•7.0-7.4: Third Round
•6.5-6.9: Fourth Round
•6.0-6.4: Fifth Round
•5.5-5.9: Sixth Round
•5.0-5.4: Seventh Round
Bijan Robinson is arguably the best running back prospect since Saquon Barkley in 2018. Barkley was drafted at No. 2 overall, and I believe that if positional value was not a factor, Robinson could be drafted as highly.
But with the influx of analytics and the “running backs do not matter” narrative that has become so prevalent, Robinson will likely fall to the latter half of the first round despite his immense talent.
However, due to the success that dual-threat running backs have had over the past season (think Christian McCaffrey), and the relative weakness of this year’s wide receiver class, Robinson might be valued a bit higher than usual.
Teams around the league have witnessed the success of a player that can take handoffs as well as run routes and catch passes. There will be plenty of offensive coordinators that are willing to use a player like Robinson as their own mismatch weapon across their offensive formations.
Whichever team has the pleasure of drafting him will get the best running back prospect in years. Robinson is a player who can consistently net over 1,000 rushing yards per season, as well as become a huge contributor in the passing game. The team that drafts him should expect a truly explosive offensive playmaker and one that can change the outlook of an offense instantly.