The Atlanta Falcons bucked analytics and recent trends by selecting running back Bijan Robinson with the No. 8 overall pick in April’s NFL Draft.
Seth Walder, an analytics analyst for ESPN, went so far as to call the pick “indefensible.“
If Lance Zierlein of NFL.com is right, it will be real easy for the Falcons to defend the pick. He has Robinson No. 1 on his list of top offensive rookie of the year candidates.
“While the hot topic in the NFL surrounds running back value, there will be no doubt about Robinson’s value right out of the gate, provided he stays healthy,” wrote Zierlein on NFL.com. “Robinson is a three-down option with an outstanding blend of vision, contact balance and an ability to create yards for himself.”
“He’s an above-average pass catcher with the ability to beat coverage in space, and he can stack up touchdowns in a hurry when his play-caller feeds him and he gets into a rhythm. Only six running backs have won this award dating back to 2003 — Cadillac Williams (2004), Adrian Peterson (2007), Eddie Lacy (2013), Todd Gurley (2015), Alvin Kamara (2017) and Saquon Barkley (2018) — but Robinson feels like a big favorite in this spot.”
The Falcons didn’t draft Bijan Robinson to develop him. They drafted him to put him to work right away. Tyler Allgeier is coming off a record breaking season as a rookie. He forms one of the best one-two punches with Robinson in the NFL.
However, Robinson isn’t just a running back, he’s a playmaker. The Falcons will move him all over the field including slot receiver.
Head coach Arthur Smith will lean heavily on his running game while quarterback Desmond Ridder develops throughout the season.
Bryce Young, the No. 1 overall pick, comes to Atlanta with the Carolina Panthers on Week 1. Young was Zierlein’s No. 2 pick for offensive rookie of the year.
It’s the first chance for the Falcons to prove why taking a running back at No. 8 made sense.