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ESPN Analyst Blasts Falcons’ Bijan Robinson Pick as ‘Indefensible’

The Atlanta Falcons once again ignored positional value in the NFL Draft when they selected Bijan Robinson with the No. 8 pick.

It was a polarizing pick, even among Falcons fans, but not because of Robinson the player, but because Robinson is a running back. Teams give up the financial advantages of a rookie contract by taking a running back in the top 10, and giving a running back a second contract is usually a bad investment.

ESPN’s Seth Walder is an analytics writer and can’t get past the numbers when evaluating the Falcons pick of Robinson.

Running back Bijan Robinson to the Atlanta Falcons at No. 8. Taking a running back in the top 10 — a low-value position where veterans are available on the cheap — is almost indefensible. For a team likely without a franchise quarterback on its roster and with another young back already on the team, it’s even worse. Defenders of the move will say the Falcons are a run-first team, so this fits. That isn’t a good thing. Running a lot is just what you do when you don’t have good enough quarterback play, as the Falcons didn’t last season.

Seth Walder, ESPN Analytics

Oh, Seth, I’d say there is plenty of defense in taking Robinson with the No. 8 overall pick. It wasn’t necessarily my favorite choice, but it was certainly the safest.

In Robinson the Falcons likely got an immediate rookie of the year candidate. He’ll have to battle quarterbacks like Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, and Anthony Richardson, but he’ll get the opportunity to showcase his talent in the Falcons’ offense.

Speaking of talent, he was universally considered the best player available when the Falcons picked. That’s a mantra general manager Terry Fontenot has lived by since taking over the Falcons.

Is getting the best player available indefensible?

What about Tyler Allgeier? The Falcons had 559 rushing attempts last year. Allgeier had 210 of them. With a more efficient offense the Falcons should have more total plays last year as well. There’s plenty of carries for two backs plus an x-factor like Cordarrelle Patterson.

The Falcons likely don’t have a franchise quarterback on the roster? According to whom? All of the non-football people?

Desmond Ridder had four starts last season. He went 2-2 in those starts, and in his final three he had a 94.4 quarterback rating. A 94.4 would have put him ahead of the likes of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Justin Fields, Derek Carr, Kyler Murray and more…

That’s a small sample size sure, but why is Desmond Ridder automatically not good enough for the NFL, because he fell to the third round? Because analytics and probability say that a third-round quarterback is unlikely?

There are always exceptions, and the Falcons have seen enough of Ridder to not make a move for a quarterback beyond Taylor Heinicke who finished 19th in the NFL in quarterback rating last year.

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Let’s assume Ridder isn’t the guy. You know what would be a head scratcher? Taking a second-round quarterback No. 8 overall. The Falcons might have considered taking one of the three that went ahead of Robinson (Young, Stroud and Robinson), but the next quarterback didn’t go until the second pick of the second round.

Reaching for second-round talent in the top 10 will kill a franchise.

The Bijan Robinson pick has been graded extremely high by football people including Bucky Brooks who calls him a perfect fit. The Falcons got high marks across the board for their draft class including Robinson.

Is Robinson a sure thing in Atlanta? Of course not…

Was the pick defendable?


Scott Kennedy
Scott Kennedy is an Atlanta native and 20 year media veteran including time as Director of Scouting at, Managing Editor at 247Sports, VP Content Operations at Sports Illustrated and more. Scott has appeared as a recruiting and NFL Draft analyst on dozens of media including ESPN, NFL Network, USA Today, NY Times, and more.

3 Replies to “ESPN Analyst Blasts Falcons’ Bijan Robinson Pick as ‘Indefensible’

  1. I actually think the pick is pretty easy to defend. Bijan Robinson didn’t have to be your first choice for the No. 8 pick, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad choice. I still think he’s an exciting player coming to an offense that can maximize his ability. Tyler Allgeier will see his load lightened a bit which should help him get to a second contract.

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