A phenomenal prep showing in Arizona saw Bijan Robinson head east to join the Texas Longhorns in 2020, where he’d go on to eventually win the 2022 Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back.
Robinson, who rushed for three 2,000-yard seasons in high school, was recognized with twice as the top high school football player in his state, and he wasted no time making his presence felt in Austin. Robinson led the Longhorns in rushing yards as a true freshman before breaking out as a sophomore and wrapping up his FBS tenure with a stellar campaign. In all, he earned first-team All-Big 12 honors in 2021 as well as first-team Associated Press All-American and All-Big 12 awards.
Weight: 215 pounds
40 time: 4.46 seconds
Robinson’s three-down, multifaceted skill set soundly has him in the conversation of the top back of this year’s class. While he comes with a Round 1 grade by most evaluators, positional devaluation may have him waiting until Day 2 to hear his name called.
Table: Bijan Robinson stats (2020-22)
*includes postseason/bowl games (stats from Sports Reference)
- Prototypical size-speed combination
- Effective from any down and distance — big plays, wins fights for tough yardage, blocking skills, receiving ability, relentless motor
- Great vision and has an instinctive feel for finding the cut-back lane at the optimal time
- Plus-contact balance and a low center of gravity
- Tough-nosed runner when needed
- Capable blocker who is not afraid to get dirty
- Soft, natural receiver who was underutilized as a receiver
- Immediate access to elite burst and seamless transmission for his second gear
- Does it all extremely well and fits any NFL system — capable running inside or out, but he should maximize his results in zone-blocking scheme
- Has a variety of moves in his toolbox to gain extra yardage both in traffic and the open field
- Quality ball security
- Durable thus far
- All of the preferred character traits — team leader, hard-worker, passionate about the game
- Can sometimes pass up easy yardage in search of the big play
- Requires a committed workload to fully maximize his presence — something hard to come by in today’s NFL with the way teams divvy up the touches
- A fair amount of mileage between high school and FBS action
- Blocking techniques could use some fine-tuning by professional coaches
- While durable so far, his style of play could open the door for increased rate of injury or a shorter career in the NFL
Fantasy football outlook
Elite. That’s the best way to describe Robinson regardless of where he is drafted. The lack of a premium placed on running backs makes his draft stock fairly difficult to precisely narrow down, though he has a few potential Round 1 suitors.
Robinson is basically a lock to go in the top 50 picks, and there’s a chance he comes off the board as early as No. 21 to the Los Angeles Chargers, which would be a bit of a surprise as Austin Ekeler remains on the roster … for now.
More likely Round 1 spots for him: Dallas (26th), Cincinnati (28th), Philadelphia (30th). Other teams that could be in play include the Arizona Cardinals, Las Vegas Raiders, Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, and Tennessee Titans. Kansas City and Buffalo don’t necessarily need back, but he could prove to be too tempting to pass.
No matter where Robinson winds up, he’ll be a Year 1 factor in fantasy football. The best situations will be Philadelphia or Cincinnati, provided Joe Mixon is actually released, but the rookie certainly could do some damage with Dallas. Robinson’s 2023 ceiling is that of a dynamite RB1, towering over a floor of a weekly flex consideration. His long-term outlook is superb.