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

There is a widely-held philosophy within the NFL that has solely elevated in recent times — spend a excessive draft decide on a operating again at your personal peril. But Texas star Bijan Robinson might change into the most recent operating again to buck that pattern within the 2023 NFL Draft.

“[He is] the most consistently highly graded player in the draft,” NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah stated Friday in considered one of his annual pre-draft teleconferences. “Everybody says that Bijan Robinson is not only the best running back in this class, he is one of the five best players in this class. He is elite.”

Many NFL groups have operating backs who’re key components of their success, however a number of of these gamers have been drafted after the primary spherical. Reigning speeding chief Josh Jacobs was a late first-round decide by the Raiders in 2019, however the two gamers after him in complete yards gained — Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb — have been each second-round picks by the Titans and Browns, respectively. Miles Sanders, who completed fifth within the NFL in complete speeding yards and helped the Eagles attain the Super Bowl final season, was a second-round decide within the 2019 draft.

That begs the query of how extremely Robinson will likely be drafted. Only 5 operating backs have been drafted within the high 10 over the previous decade, and 4 of them grew into superstars on their rookie offers — Todd Gurley (tenth general to the Rams in 2015), Ezekiel Elliott (fourth general to the Cowboys in 2016), Christian McCaffrey (eighth general to the Panthers in 2017) and Saquon Barkley (second general to the Giants in 2018). Leonard Fournette, who went fourth general to the Jaguars in 2017, is the exception.

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But may Robinson be part of that elite group? Jeremiah thinks so.

“If he were to go in the top 10, he would not get laughs around the league because people know how good this guy is,” Jeremiah stated. “So I just don’t know where to put him. You look at all the different needs that these teams have. 

“My philosophy on operating backs is I do not thoughts taking a operating again within the first spherical, so long as your group is able to win proper now.”

It is 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, in large part because of other roster issues that they chose not to address when drafting a running back so highly. Of that group of five, only Gurley in 2018 reached a Super Bowl with the team that drafted him. 

Teams also have to take into account the relatively short career span that running backs tend to have. Gurley is already retired after taking his last NFL snap at age 26, and the 27-year-old Elliott is clearly on the downslope of his career following a rough 2022. Jeremiah himself suggested Robinson to the Buccaneers in a recent mock draft as a replacement for Fournette, who also struggled last season amid dealing with injuries .

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Yet Robinson just might be worth that heavy investment. He earned Heisman Trophy votes in 2022 after a stellar year in which he averaged 6.1 yards per carry, notched 1,894 total yards of offense and scored 20 touchdowns.

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Bijan Robinson breaks free for his fourth TD of the game

“Backs with Robinson’s prototypical construct and energy are sometimes not additionally blessed with exceptional imaginative and prescient, persistence and elusiveness,” FOX Sports analyst Rob Rang wrote recently. “That is the mix that makes Robinson the uncommon runner worthy of early-first-round consideration.”

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

Still, Jeremiah admits that even his contacts inside the league have no idea where Robinson will ultimately end up being taken in the 2023 draft, which kicks off April 27. 

“I wish to have all of his carries over that five-year interval depend and assist push in the direction of a championship,” Jeremiah said. “To take a big-time operating again like that and your group stinks, you are going to waste his prime and it is not going to do something for you. 

“That’s the conundrum there with Bijan Robinson. He is, no doubt about it to me, he is one of the premier, premier players in the draft.”

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