Bijan Robinson draft profile: The next Josh Jacobs?

Enough messing around, now we're jumping into the RB draft pool with 2 feet. After profiling mainly UDFA and late round types, let's take a deep dive into the consensus best RB in this draft, Bijan Robinson from Texas.

My NFL comp for Robinson is Raiders RB, Josh Jacobs, who played at Alabama and was the 24th overall pick in 2019. Jacobs was the first RB taken that year. The Rams got Henderson early in the 3rd round. Jacobs leads the NFL in rushing this season with 1,608 yards, so in a sense I'm saying that Bijan Robinson also has the potential to someday lead the NFL in rushing.

On the other hand, is an elite RB still important in the NFL. The Raiders are 6-10 and aren't going to the playoffs. Derek Henry is 2nd in the NFL in rushing and the Titans have a losing record. Nick Chubb is 4th in rushing and the Browns have a losing record. What is the point of having a RB who piles up rushing statistics if it doesn't strongly correlate with winning football games?

Regardless of how good Robinson is as a prospect, will he even be selected in the 1st round? At the moment, the Rams hold the 37th overall selection, early in the 2nd round. I did a draft simulation using NFLmockdraftdatabase and the sim sent Bijan Robinson to the Colts at pick 36, one slot before the Rams. Maybe Robinson will slide far enough to reach the Rams or at least be in the range for a reasonable trade up, if the Rams were so inclined. So, I don't think this profile is just an academic exercise, looking at a player the Rams won't be able to draft. Even if unlikely, there is at least a reasonable chance the Rams could get Robinson. Plus, it is very early in the draft process and many players will make large movements up and down draft boards or get selected in the actual draft at a slot that isn't remotely close to where the experts and fans expected the player to be taken.

Is Robinson one of the best players in this draft? Is he a better pure talent than even a healthy Todd Gurley? Or is he an overrated player the Rams should avoid even if he were to fall to them?

The Origins of McVay's Offense

Bijan Robinson's great uncle also was an NFL running back. Paul Robinson was drafted by the AFL expansion team Bengals in 1968. As a rookie, Robinson was runner up for the AFL MVP award, behind Joe Namath.

The following year, the Bengals drafted quarterback Greg Cook early in the 1st round. Old time pro football fans and younger students of the game are probably very familiar with the legend of Greg Cook. He had outstanding arm talent and was athletic. According to Bill Walsh, Cook was a bigger version of Steve Young. Early in his rookie season, Cook suffered a shoulder injury, but continued to play and had a good year. Sports medicine was very poor back then. He had a misdiagnosed torn rotator cuff and the doctors later discovered that Cook had also developed additional arm problems.

The Bengals were coached by the legendary Paul Brown. Walsh was his talented assistant coach. If Cook had never gotten injured, it is very possible that today we would be talking about him as one of the greatest QBs in NFL history. Perhaps fans would say "Sure, Tom Brady is pretty good, but he's no Greg Cook."

Instead of a Bengals dynasty in the 1970's with Cook, the Steelers became the franchise of the 70's (RIP, Franco Harris) and the Bengals started down the road to becoming one of the most cursed franchises in the NFL.

With Cook injured, the Bengals traded for another QB, Virgil Carter, in 1970. This was the first season of the AFL-NFL merger. Carter had very limited arm strength in comparison with Cook. Walsh says that if Cook had been QB, what would eventually became known as the West Coast Offense would have looked very different, because there would have been more vertical, deep passing plays to capitalize on Cook's arm talent. Instead, Walsh had to come up with creative ways to overcome the loss of the team's franchise QB, a system that could be run by a QB with a weak arm. Thus, the West Coast Offense was constructed around quick, short, horizontal passing plays, timing based progressions, and QB roll outs so that he could throw the ball with a flatter trajectory. The Bengals began the season 1-6, but rallied to become a surprise playoff team, losing to Johnny Unitas and the Colts.

Two generations later, teams like the 2021 Super Bowl Champion Rams exemplify how Walsh's offensive innovations have stood the test of time and continue to shape how the modern pro game is played. Bijan Robinson's great uncle was there when it all began and experienced it firsthand.


Name: Bijan Robinson. Has declared for draft. Didn't play in bowl game. Turns 23 years old in January.

School: Texas. Communication and leadership major. True Junior. Has multiple NIL endorsement deals.

Size: Listed at 6 foot tall, 222 pounds. Per NFLDraftbuzz 4.49 sec (40 time). Sports Illustrated has him as 5'11 3/4'' tall (because, you know that quarter of an inch makes all the difference, right?) and 220 pounds.

2020(9 games): 86-703-4 (8.2 yard ave) 15-196-2 receiving, 1 fumble

2021(10 starts): 195-1,127-11 (5.8 ave) 26-295-4 rec, 2 fumbles

2022(12 starts): 258-1,580-18 (6.1 ave) 19-314-2 rec, 2 fumbles

5 career fumbles on 599 total touches, one every 120 touches, about an average rate. Has 1 career KR attempt.

5 star recruit out of Tucson, AZ. Phenomenal HS player, had over 7,000 career rushing yards and ran for over 2,000 yards 3 consecutive seasons. Made history by being the first player in the state of Arizona to ever win the POY award 2 times. Averaged whopping 13.7 yards per carry in HS career. Consensus top 25 recruit in country. Grandfather was a college football ref.

Doak Walker Award winner in 2022. Consensus All-American in 2022.

Wears jersey number 5, because he was a Reggie Bush fan.

In September of 2020, had a very scary injury against Texas Tech. He tried to hurdle a defender (Kids, don't try to hurdle players because you think it is "cool") and got flipped upside down. As he was landing on his head, a 2nd defender hit him in the back, resulting in Robinson doing an extreme scorpion. His neck momentarily was bent all the way backwards so that his face was towards the ground while the rest of his body was facing towards the sky. Injury was listed as a back strain, but he was very lucky to escape serious injury. I imagine a fall like that could have ended his career or left him paralyzed.

Had a neck strain against Iowa State in 2021 on a play where he fumbled. When I saw the play, at first I thought he had a shoulder injury.

In November of 2021, he suffered an ugly left elbow dislocation against Kansas, ending his season.

Had a shoulder injury in 2022 against Alabama.

Against Texas Tech in 2022, there was a play where he fumbles and he falls backwards appearing to hit his back, shoulder and/or head. I couldn't tell exactly what happened, but his body freezes up as if he's hurt and in pain or substantial discomfort.

I don't want to speculate too much, but bottom line is there probably needs to be a thorough medical evaluation on Robinson for NFL teams. It is possible that some of these "strains" are related or there is more going on below the surface. Colleges understandably don't share very much information when it comes to player injuries.

For such a huge star, Robinson has a refreshingly grounded and humble personality. Easy going, personable.

ESPN RB1, 6th overall (1st rd)

CBSSports RB2, 16th overall (1st rd)

PFF RB1, 22nd overall.

Drafttek RB1, 5th overall (1st rd)

Draftcoutdown (Shane Hallam) RB1, 5th overall (1st rd)

NFLDraftbuzz RB1, 10th overall (1st rd)

PFN RB1, 6th overall (1st rd)

All the draft experts think he's great, so I'm not going to even list everything they say, you can probably guess, because it is what you'd expect for the top RB prospect. Speed, size, power, vision, burst, balance, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, we get it, they think he's great. A top 10 overall prospect at RB is good at running the football. I'm shocked!

NFLDraftBuzz says his best attribute is his relentlessness. Has potential to be one of NFL's best pass blockers. Very good vision. Elite spin move, beautiful stutter step. Can cut on a dime. Breakaway speed. Runs with low pad level, falls forward. Decent hands as receiver. Lacks elite speed, a little indecisive at the line of scrimmage. Can be impatient behind blockers.

Sports Illustrated says he's an elite prospect. Instinctive, breaks ankles, high level route runner, blah, blah, blah, let's see, what else? Raw pass protector. Must refine his open field vision. Leaves too much on field, too conservative, misses opportunities to bounce runs. Inconsistent blocker, sometimes fails to pick up blitzers. A low risk, high reward prospect. Could be truly special in the NFL. 1st round grade.

PFN (Ian Cummings) says top 10 prospect based on pure talent, but late 1st round in projection. Well balanced, effortless cuts, impressive burst, blah, blah, blah. Might not have elite explosiveness or long speed, lacks home run gear. Not elite contact balance. Misses outside space, defers to congestion. Tries to do too much in space, not controlled with movements. Resorts to body catches, resulting in drops off his chest. A scheme versatile game changer.

Okay, now let's see what the tape says.


Dynamic, explosive, a big play generator. Creates chunk plays out of nothing. Jumps off the screen as a "no doubt" NFL starter type RB prospect. Has potential to be a 3 down RB and be a complete player.

Prototypical size and build for an NFL starting running back. Low center of gravity, strong legs, muscular upper body.

Per PFF, forced 75 missed tackles in 2022, which would be a rate of 3.44 attempts per broken tackle. Last year, I discussed how Dameon Pierce had a phenomenal rate of breaking tackles of 2.56 (the lower the number, the better) so Robinson isn't quite as good as Pierce, but still was elite. Effective spin move. Avoids TFLs in the backfield. Can link together jump cuts or stop on a dime. Often goes with a stutter step fake. Dodges and weaves through traffic, can stiff arm.

Run strength and base to absorb hard hits from defenders and stay on his feet. Not afraid of contact, barrels up the middle when he has a lane and lowers the boom on defenders. Makes some Houdini escapes due to good contact balance. Surrounded by 3 defenders, 2 guys bounce off him and he continues to run downfield.

Slaloms by defenders like a sports car driving around cones in an empty parking lot. Can sink hips and explode into and out of breaks. Creative runner who shows some ability to set up LBs. Can jump over the top of the line in short yardage situations and extend the ball forward.

Strings together moves and break multiple tackles in succession. Spin move and 2 stiff arms on the same run. Can lower his pads and deliver powerful thump into safeties.

Excellent urgency as runner. If the defense keeps him contained, things might seem quiet, but a storm could be brewing and in an instant he's loose in the secondary like a tornado leaving a path of destruction. Has a "take the fight to the defense" play demeanor on the field. When a hole opens, he's generally downhill, direct and a load to stop.

Pretty good hands catching passes, displays confidence in his own hands. Proper technique with hands catching the ball away from his body with arms extended. Good tempo releasing out of the backfield. Created separation from slot alignment with hesitation move, then went down seam. Made great one handed catch. Smooth acceleration after catch. Makes defenders miss, can generate yards after catch. Adjusts to off target throws, flexibility and agility to turn body around to catch ball behind him.

Experience with variety of zone, power and gap scheme runs, read option, jet sweep.

Improved as a player over the course of his college career. Has developmental upside. Best football could be still ahead of him.

Normal age for an average draft prospect.


Asked to name the best RBs of all time, he chose Bo Jackson and left off Jim Brown. Kids these days. Get off my lawn!

Balance problems. Frequently loses his balance trying to make cuts and falls down. Slips and stumbles trying to get through the hole. 1 vs 1 on CB, stumbled trying to cut and falls directly into the CB. Slipped and fell trying to run angle route. Turf monster can become the12th defender.

Doesn't have enough speed to make house calls. Gets run out of bounds or tackled short of the end zone on long runs. Can get caught from behind in the open field. Had a defender right behind him when he got to the 2nd level and didn't have an instant burst to pull away. Speed tops out in open field, defenders run with him, he doesn't run away from them. In open field at midfield, about even with the safety, got dragged down just inside the 10.

Too many mistakes as a runner. Creates a bunch of "hidden" negative plays due to a worrisome high percentage of negative Rushing Yards Over Expected rushing attempts. If you just looked at the stat sheet or the play log, you might think "Oh, maybe the offensive line messed up on that one", but that's not what happened, his blocking at times was outstanding, but the RB did something wrong to ruin the play. Sometimes, he left small yardage on the field (e.g. converting a 3 to 4 yard gain into a 0 or -2 yard play) or left a huge amount of yardage on the field (e.g. changing a potential 15 to 70 yard run into a 0 to 3 yard run.)

Below average vision, especially to find cutbacks. Wide zone, should cut backside behind either the C or G, but instead stays to the frontside of C, running directly into the arms of the DT. Huge gap if he cuts to the right, would have been 1 vs 1 on the safety, but strangely goes to the opposite side and gets tackled by the LB. Misses huge, wide open cutback opportunities, running into congestion on the frontside. Inside zone, he should go L, but he goes R instead. The RT and RG create a huge hole, but the RB pauses behind the C as if he's completely blind to it, gets tackled for no gain. Zone run, should go up middle, but misreads block of C and tries to bounce it all the way outside, ruining a nice play design that used misdirection to drag defenders out of the box (This is so bad, the fake worked and got the defender to go wide, but the RB then runs directly towards the "out of position" defender and brings him back into the action. What is Robinson thinking?) Wide zone run, blocked very well, the combo block is set up perfectly, but the RB doesn't recognize it, he continues to run wider instead of cutting towards middle, then finds his path blocked to the outside, so he reverses field and tries to go back towards the gap he should have cut back into in the first place. Gigantic hole to the right of the G, potential huge gain, but the RB goes to the left of the G instead, directly into a LB and gets tackled. He should cut to the right of the center to break into the open, but his eyes seem to be locked in on his TE's block and he goes to the left of the center, resulting in only a one yard gain. Defender makes a mistake and the edge is wide open for him to gain the corner, but he doesn't see it and runs into the back of his pulling blocker, slowing him down instead of bursting into open space. Zone run, there is a huge lane to the right or he could try to go outside to the left, but he starts heading to the left side, changes his mind and tries to go back to the right, no gain, his indecision ruining a good opportunity. Late to see the cutback lane, then once he gets past the LOS he attempts to bounce the run wide and instead of gaining yardage he goes backwards and it results in the run going for zero yardage. I honestly have no idea what Robinson is looking at on some plays, it is like he only sees what is directly in front of him and has a very poor feel for what is off to the side, playing through a straw.

Dances too much, hesitant if he doesn't see an opening. Tries to make "perfect" runs in situations where a RB just needs to plow forward and take or short gain or get back to the LOS. Too many stutter steps cause him to lose speed, making him easier to tackle at 2nd level.

His peripheral vision is narrow, causing him to not see a 2nd defender coming his way. Wide zone run, he makes 100% the proper read to cut towards middle, but the problem is there is penetration from the backside. He should be able to see this and adjust his body to slide by the defender, but instead it is like he's completely surprised and runs directly into the hit, square and head on. On gap run, he cuts directly into the LB (Malcolm Rodriguez, 6th round 2022, a small and undersized LB), who lifts him off the ground, then body slams him. That is a 6th rounder on 1st rounder crime. Defense sends LBs on a run blitz, but the OL is aware and picks it up, Robinson cuts too far into the path of the DE, overreacting to the blitz instead of hugging tighter to his OT so that he could squeeze by the DE. Obvious cutback, but RB presses too deep on zone run and when he finally cuts back he appears to get surprised by the 1st defender, losing momentum, he then tries to make multiple bounces to the outside and ultimately it is a 1 yard TFL, where if he had made the proper initial cut, he would have been 1 vs 1 on a DB in space. Wide zone run, the NT is to the left of the center while the edge defender is inside of the TE's block. The RB could cut outside of the TE or cut to the right of the center. Instead, Robinson slams into the back of the center.

Not able to "ride the wave" on zone runs. Multiple plays, he doesn't read the blocks with anticipation, so when the cutback lane opens up in the middle he's not able to hit it properly to surf through the LOS and break into open field. One time, gigantic cutback lane opened up, but he just dives forward, missing potential huge gain. Other times, he makes an extra hop step, not able to find hole and go to it directly, causing him to be late, and perhaps more importantly he's not carry enough speed to run through the opening, making him easier to tackle.

Excessive lateral cuts and multiple bounces to the outside, instead of cutting upfield. If he's presented 2 doors (i.e. he could try to run up middle or try to get wide) he typically will choose door number 2 and bounce the run outside. If he is faced with unblocked defenders or a LB tries to fill the hole, he gives up too easily and will bounce multiple times sideways. One play, probably had a chance at a long TD run, but instead of cutting upfield he heads towards the sideline and creates a TFL. Has chance to attack the LB directly, but instead bounces it sideways. Zone run, the C and G are working a combo block and the C is going to work up to block the LB. What the RB should do is run off of the hip of the C, using the block. Instead of going forward, Robinson cuts 90 degrees sideways and gets tackled for no gain. Had nice bubble on zone run, if he goes forward, I bet he gains about 3 yards, but he tries to bounce outside and loses about 3 yards instead. This is a very bad trait to have as an NFL running back.

Urgency crosses over into being impatient on some runs. Ran up the back of a pulling lineman. On a pin and pull toss, he should have given the puller time to get downfield and then used the block, but instead the RB just races out in front of the lineman. He's supposed to follow a pulling TE on a play, and suddenly abandons it and runs in the opposite direction. Football is 11 vs 11, but since the QB doesn't block, it is typically 10 on 11 on a running play. If the RB doesn't use one of the blockers, it becomes 9 on 11. Good luck with that approach.

Average on short yardage rushing attempts. Not enough momentum to power through defenders. Gets stoned too easy relative to his size, his forward momentum stopped, then he gets pushed backwards, unable to fall forward. Not good at dragging a tackler "one more yard" when necessary. Stopped too frequently in short yardage, even on plays it looked like he could have gotten the needed yardage. Short yardage, he should follow his FB, but instead he bounces the run outside. Not able to consistently drive forward through tackles to add tough yards. Should have followed OT and G on 4th down, but tries to go to the wrong side of the FB block.

Gets dragged down by arm tackles that a great RB should be able to break or evade. Up against CB defending edge, RB doesn't go around the CB, instead gets caught up on arm tackle. Rarely does he hop or jump over or around diving arm tackles. Doesn't use his off arm enough to push away the defender when he has an opportunity to stiff arm them (or he can't, because the ball is in his leading arm.)

Durability questions. Had multiple injuries in college. Needs to get a clean medical evaluation from NFL teams. Takes some huge shots from LBs and Safeties. On some of those hits, his head is bowed down forward towards the defender. His running style could lead to injuries, because he's not very skilled at making a subtle adjustment right before impact, instead he absorbs 100% power hits. Gets bent into very awkward body positions, partly due to his style of running. One play, he did the "super splits", with multiple defenders on top of him and his legs were dangerously spread wide. Since he frequently gets caught around the ankles by arm tackles, multiple times one defender had a hold of one leg while Robinson tried to run with the other free leg, then a 2nd defender came by and hit him high. Essentially, it was like he was at the gym doing a lunge, with your back leg locked, then someone hits you in the chest or the back, a vulnerable situation. Better to be 100% up or 100% down. 50% up is dangerous.

Loses in 1 on 1 situations. Ran directly into the CB in open field. Made a nice cut and was 1 vs 1 on CB with plenty of space to operate, but tried to spin and got tackled. Run is perfectly blocked, RB is 1 vs 1 on S, has chance at long TD run, but the S trips him up in the hole. Went with stutter step fake on runs where I thought he should have tried to jump cut . It looks to me like he's trying to emulate Reggie Bush, but first of all, Bush wasn't that good of an NFL running back and secondly Robinson is a different type of athlete than Bush. I'd rather see Robinson take a more physical approach, run though tackles, don't be so finesse and try to juke guys every time. Be more like Todd Gurley. I don't think Robinson's style of running fits his body type. He tries to get too cute and it robs him of running strength.

Average ball security. Ball is not tucked tight to his chest. As he goes to 2nd level, sometimes swings away from body. Doesn't always cover it up with 2 hands in heavy traffic. One fumble, ball punched out from side at 2nd level, his focus was on defender trying to make tackle and he didn't sense the 2nd defender. Left hand dominant. Often runs towards the right side of the field with the ball in his left hand. With the ball in his LH, he can't deliver a stiff arm to the defender. Also, the ball is exposed to the defender's hit, whether by the defender's pads, helmet or a punch. Overtime, game is tied, he has ball in his left hand going to the right side of the field, fumbles, and his team loses the game. Holding the ball in his LT going to the right side of the field, a defender's helmet hits his left arm, nearly knocking the ball loose.

Inconsistent catching. Focus drop on easy pass to the flat. Was unable to dig out low throws below his knees.

Below average pass blocking. Waits for blitzers instead of stepping up in the pocket to meet them. Catches the defender, doesn't punch, risking holding and getting pushed backwards. Doesn't have great play strength as blocker, more like a smaller RB in effectiveness, nearly overpowered on some pass blocks. In their scheme, rarely was asked to pass block. Roschon Johnson typically used on long 3rd downs. Was 100% blind to blitz, allowing a free rusher to get to the QB. Was in system where QB was rarely under center.

Routinely tips off screen passes by not maintaining deception. Poor fake on counter runs.

A few plays, he appeared to make mental errors with his assignment. Could have growing pains with complexity of an NFL playbook.

Big OL opened up some big lanes for him, moving defenders out of the way. Didn't take full advantage of the opportunities created by his blocking.

Bigger bust potential than normal for the consensus top RB draft prospect.

Draft Grade and Pro Comp

2nd round grade, Josh Jacobs (24th overall pick, 1st round, 2019, Raiders, Alabama)

Bijan Robinson isn't a Saquon Barkley or a Christian McCaffrey. He's not the next LaDainian Tomlinson. I don't understand why many experts are super high on him as a draft prospect. Maybe, it is because he was so super hyped as a high school prospect. I feel that Robinson is overrated. He has a high ceiling and has potential to be an elite NFL RB, but IMO he's a raw talent, not a finished product. I'd be surprised if he took the league by storm as a rookie, especially if he landed on a team like the Rams and the OL for the Rams in 2023 performed similarly to 2022.

I was excited at first when I started watching Robinson's tape, but to be perfectly honest, it was disappointing the more games you watched. He's a very odd prospect, because he had many runs where he added a ton of yardage by exploding through lanes, dodging defenders or breaking tackles, then there are many other runs where he subtracted yardage by displaying poor vision and lane choices, getting tripped up by defenders he easily could have beaten, losing his balance or not being able to run fast enough. He giveth and he taketh away type of RB.

IMO, if Robinson never improved at all, he'd be a very inconsistent player in the NFL. Especially if he had a great OL, there would be a few games where he'd explode and have big yardage or highlight plays and everyone would think that he was great. Then, there would be games where he couldn't get anything going and all his fantasy football owners would get angry.

If we just went down the list of all of his traits, I feel there is a good argument that both Brian Robinson Jr. (late 3rd rd) and Dameon Pierce (4th rd) from last year's draft were both better RB prospects than Bijan Robinson. Brian Robinson Jr. had excellent vision, was a good pass blocker, was a superior power runner, and had an extremely low fumble rate. Pierce also had very good vision, was an elite tackle breaker and had a physical and direct style of running.

Consequently, I was tempted to only give Bijan Robinson a 3rd round grade. The reason I decided to keep him as a 2nd round prospect is I think that many of his flaws could be addressed with additional experience and with good coaching. In time, I think he could become a very good player. If Robinson had bad intangibles, I'd be worried, but he seems like a smart guy with his head on straight, who would listen to the coaching staff. Robinson isn't as good as Jacobs right now, but eventually he might be able to reach that level.

Of course, exactly how good is Jacbos as an individual player? That question might not be entirely easy to answer. As a rookie in 2019, Jacobs averaged 4.8 yards per carry and ran for 1,150 yards. That season, the Raiders had linemen such as Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson, Incognito and Trent Brown. Jackson was injured and didn't play in the early part of 2019. PFF graded Jackson as a poor pass blocker in 2019, but a great run blocker.

The following 2 seasons, the Raiders were not good at run blocking. Per ESPN, the Raiders ranked 27th in run block win rate in 2020 and 31st in RBWR in 2021. Jacobs averaged only 3.9 YPC in 2020 and 4.0 YPC in 2021. This "decline" in production from Jacobs was probably one of the factors in why the team declined his 5th year option.

In 2022, Jacobs leads the NFL in rushing yardage and has a career high 5.0 yards per carry average. The Raiders are 8th in run block win rate. In one season they went from being next to last in run blocking to a top 10 unit. Predictably, the RB's stats dramatically improved.

In terms of total Rushing Yards Over Expected, Jacobs ranked 4th in the NFL in both 2019 and in 2022. In the middle 2 seasons of his rookie contract, he was 25th and tied for 25th. Is Josh Jacobs a top 5 RB or is he not a top 5 RB? A question for another day.

Ultimately, I would say that Bijan Robinson is a player worth considering if still on the board for the Rams, but he's not a slam dunk, run the card up to the podium type of RB. He's not Steven Jackson, who unexpectedly fell in the draft and was taken 24th overall in 2004 by the Rams.