Should RB Bijan Robinson go top 10 in 2023 NFL Draft?

There is a widely held philosophy in the NFL that has only increased in recent years: spend a good draft pick on a running back at your peril. But Texas star Bijan Robinson may become the latest running back to reverse that trend in the 2023 NFL Draft.

“[He is] most consistently qualified player in the draft,” NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said Friday on one of his annual pre-draft conference calls. “Everybody says Bijan Robinson is not only the best running back in this class, but he’s a of the five best players in this category. He’s elite.”

Many NFL teams have running backs who are key parts of their success, but several of those players were drafted after the first round. Current leader Josh Jacobs was a late first-round pick by the Raiders in 2019, but the two players who trailed him in receiving yards, Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb, were second-round picks by the Titans and Browns, respectively. respectively. Miles Sanders, who finished fifth in the NFL in total yards and helped the Eagles reach the Super Bowl last season, was a second-round pick in the 2019 draft.

This raises the question of how high Robinson will be drafted. Only five running backs have been drafted in the top 10 over the last decade, and four of them became superstars in their rookie deals: Todd Gurley (10th overall to the Rams in 2015), Ezekiel Elliott (fourth in overall to the Cowboys in 2016). ), Christian McCaffrey (eighth overall to the Panthers in 2017) and Saquon Barkley (second overall to the Giants in 2018). Leonard Fournette, who went fourth overall to the Jaguars in 2017, is the exception.

But could Robinson join that elite group? Jeremiah thinks so.

“If he were to go top 10, he wouldn’t be laughed at around the league because people know how good this guy is,” Jeremiah said. “So I don’t know where to put him. You look at all the different needs these teams have.

“My philosophy on running backs is I don’t mind taking a running back in the first round as long as your team is ready to win right now.”

It’s worth noting that Elliott, Fournette and McCaffrey all made the playoffs in their rookie seasons. But the teams that drafted them all struggled to varying degrees after that, largely due to other roster issues they chose not to address when drafting such a high running back. Of that group of five, only Gurley in 2018 reached a Super Bowl with the team that drafted him.

Teams also have to consider the relatively short career span that runners typically have. Gurley has already retired after taking his last NFL snap at age 26, and Elliott, 27, is clearly on the downswing of his career after a difficult 2022. Jeremiah himself suggested Robinson to the Buccaneers in a recent mock draft as a replacement. for Fournette, who also struggled last season amid injuries.

[Dez Bryant, CeeDee Lamb defend Ezekiel Elliott against detractors]

However, Robinson could be worth that big investment. He won Heisman Trophy votes in 2022 after a stellar year in which he averaged 6.1 yards per carry, posted 1,894 yards of total offense and scored 20 touchdowns.

Bijan Robinson breaks free for his fourth TD of the game

Bijan Robinson breaks free for his fourth TD of the game

“Backs with Robinson’s prototypical build and power typically lack remarkable vision, patience and evasion,” FOX Sports analyst Rob Rang wrote recently. “That’s the combination that makes Robinson the rare running back who deserves to be considered early in the first round.”

[2023 NFL Draft RB prospect rankings: Bijan Robinson stands out in deep class]

Still, Jeremiah admits that even his contacts within the league have no idea where Robinson will end up in the 2023 draft, which begins on April 27.

“I want to count on all of his actions over that five-year period and help push toward a championship,” Jeremiah said. “To take a big run like this and your team stinks, you’re going to waste their prime and it’s not going to do anything for you.

“That’s the conundrum with Bijan Robinson. He’s, without a doubt, to me, he’s one of the first, first draft picks.”

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