While ESPN's draft experts are breaking down scouting reports and analyzing which NFL teams not named the Indianapolis Colts are targeting quarterback C.J. Stroud in their NFL mock drafts, there's a Big 12 rusher who is ready to take any team to the next level. Texas running back Bijan Robinson was on many NFL radars ahead of this NFL Draft season; but his 40-yard dash time at this year's NFL Scouting Combine has some asking if the Texas RB might land somewhere as high as the top 10.
Robinson clocked 4.46 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine, which was good enough for the sixth-fastest among all running backs in this year's class. Along with other measurables such as his broad jump — as well as overall size, strength and his ability to slip through tackles — he ranks as the top running back prospect heading into the NFL draft.
Born in Tucson, Arizona, he set a state high school career record at Salpointe Catholic with 7,036 yards and 112 touchdowns. He came to Austin in 2020 and saw immediate playing time in the Texas Longhorns' backfield. His freshman season ended with an Alamo Bowl MVP award. In 2021, he was named first-team All-Big 12. And in 2022, he exploded with 1,580 rushing yards from the line of scrimmage and 18 touchdowns on his way to winning the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's best college football running back.
While Robinson didn't take part in Texas' Pro Day drills (teammate Roschon Johnson did), he was available to talk with scouts. He was brought in for pre-draft meetings with the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Where will Bijan Robinson Land in the NFL Draft?
Predicting where Robinson will go in the NFL Draft has been one of the harder positions to mock. He is no doubt a first-round talent, one of the best players and possibly even a top 5 prospect in this year's draft. But first-round running backs are becoming more and more scarce as the years roll on. No running backs were taken in 2022's first round. In 2021, Alabama's Najee Harris and Clemson's Travis Etienne went 24th and 25th to the Steelers and Jaguars, respectively. You have to go all the way back to 2018 to find a running back taken in the top 20, when Saquon Barkley was selected with the second overall pick by the New York Giants.
Top 10 Possibilities
Most mock drafts have Robinson as a late first-round selection. However, some have him mocked to the Atlanta Falcons at No. 9. There is definitely a need at running back there, especially if they are unable to land quarterbacks Will Levis or Anthony Richardson. Should the Falcons pass on Robinson, the Eagles may be a landing spot at No. 10. The defending NFC champions let running back Miles Sanders walk in the offseason, joining the Panthers on a four-year deal.
Moving down to the mid-round selections, Robinson could be of interest to the Patriots at No. 14 or the Lions, who hold the No. 19 pick. He would be an upgrade to both Rhamondre Stevenson and D'Andre Swift. However, both teams might opt to address other areas of concern that early in the draft.
The Seahawks are an interesting candidate to land Robinson at No. 20. Pete Carroll's squad was a pleasant surprise of the 2022 season after trading away Russell Wilson, but they have no clear-cut No. 1 running back on the roster.
By the time the Dallas Cowboys select at No. 26, we start to get into what most people believe is the target range for Robinson. The Cowboys pride themselves on power running backs. Ezekiel Elliott is gone, and Tony Pollard is coming off a broken leg, so there is a clear fit for a potential three-down back in Dallas.
Late First-Round Potentials
If Robinson makes it to the late first round, there are two teams he won't get past: the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bills lost Devin Singletary to Houston in the offseason, and Robinson might just be the catalyst the Bills need to get over that hump and play for a Super Bowl. There is also the potential for the defending Super Bowl champions to land arguably the best running back prospect since Barkley. If that happens, watch out, AFC.
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