NFL, Read

NFL Draft Profile: Bijan Robinson

School: Texas

Position: RB

Year: Junior

The Good: Bijan Robinson has the start-and-stop ability of a 120 pound man, let alone a 220 pound man. His cutting is truly second-to-none among RB prospects that I’ve evaluated over the past few years, and his balance is nearly as special too. Bijan can get remarkably skinny for a back of his size and he can maintain near top speed while angling his body to hit a hole or make defenders miss. Those elements of his game, plus his ability to hit top speed in a second, make Bijan an ideal fit for a zone scheme where he can patiently seek his first cut and get to the next levels of defenses. He has a full arsenal of moves in the open field that includes a tight spin, and he’s got plenty of leg strength to carry defenders and deflect anyone who tries to tackle him low. As a receiver, Bijan has really smooth hands and the body control of a natural WR. He accumulated 600 career touches at Texas and has the build to maintain a full workload in the NFL too. 

The Bad: Bijan’s vision certainly isn’t an issue compared to most other NFL hopefuls at RB, but he’s unique in that he’s almost too overactive in scanning the field then reacting accordingly. He can stand to improve in trusting his blockers and allowing things to develop in front of him. There are plenty of examples on tape where Bijan curtails a developing run to cut back, often into the muck between the tackles. You also find moments on tape where Bijan hesitates in the backfield and passes up gaps that could be hit with urgency upon receiving the ball. He’ll even bypass fairly obvious opportunities to bounce runs at times, which is normally a *good* habit but admittedly frustrating for a RB with his talent. Bijan was surprisingly ineffective in short yardage and goal line situations at Texas; maybe that had something to do with apprehension for pre-draft injuries – which would be valid – but nonetheless it’s something to keep an eye on in the NFL. Outside of the run game, Bijan’s route tree doesn’t exist too far outside of wheels and screens. He’s also generally inconsistent with technique and subpar with recognition in pass protection. 

The Bottom Line: Rather than a grand statement on the value of running backs or something along those lines, I’d rather write here about a lesson learned in NFL Draft evaluation and how it applies to Bijan Robinson. One of my worst misses was a relatively low grade on Micah Parsons; I loved his burst and tenacity but had concerns about his discipline and other factors that go into being a successful off-ball linebacker. I didn’t think big enough about how an NFL team could leverage his traits compared to how Penn State did. There are similar outcomes on the contrary too, like with Isaiah Simmons in Arizona. The point is that I could zero in on the potential shortcomings in Bijan’s game and worry what his career will look like if he’s drafted into a situation where his team prioritizes maximizing his touches over offensive efficiency, like with Saquon Barkley or Najee Harris. I’m not going to outright ignore that possibility or his weaknesses – and thus his below grade reflects that – but I will allow myself to get more excited about Bijan’s skillset ending up in the right situation than I had before.

Grade: Mid First Round

Pro Comp: Edgerrin James

Games Watched:

  • Oklahoma 2021
  • Oklahoma State 2021
  • Iowa State 2021
  • Alabama 2022
  • UTSA 2022
  • Oklahoma 2022
  • Kansas State 2022

Plays That Matter [LINK]


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