2023 NFL Draft: Atlanta Falcons buck running back trend and take Texas' Bijan Robinson at No. 8
Robinson is the first RB picked in the top 10 since 2018
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Atlanta Falcons are continuing to stockpile first-round draft picks on offense.
The Falcons selected Texas running back Bijan Robinson with the No. 8 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft on Thursday night. Robinson joins 2022 first-round wideout Drake London and 2021 first-round tight end Kyle Pitts in Atlanta’s offense.
Robinson is the first running back drafted in the top 10 since the New York Giants took Saquon Barkley with the No. 2 overall pick in 2018 and is just the fifth running back taken in the first round since the Giants chose Barkley.
Robinson was phenomenal at Texas as he rushed for 1,580 yards in 12 games in 2022 and added 314 receiving yards. He was widely considered one of the best overall players available in the draft but his placement in the first round was uncertain because of the way NFL teams have started to value the running back position.
The Falcons weren’t concerned with spending a high pick on Robinson. After all, Falcons head coach Arthur Smith came from Tennessee, where he ran a run-heavy offense with Derrick Henry and knows how a star running back can power an offense.
Smith also knows how a late-round rookie can be productive, too. Tyler Allgeier ran for 1,035 yards in 2022 after he was taken in the fifth round a year ago. He's now likely relegated to the No. 2 role in Atlanta's backfield with Robinson's arrival.
Robinson and Allgeier immediately form a great rushing combination that can take pressure off second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder. The former Cincinnati QB made four starts at the end of his rookie season in 2022 and is expected to be the team’s starter at the start of 2023.
And now with Robinson in the fold, Ridder has another high draft pick he can get the ball to. Robinson has the ability to make a big impact in the pass game as well and can complement London and Pitts.