Put Texas star running back Bijan Robinson in the Atlanta Falcons offense and watch out, NFL!
FanDuel had Robinson at +250 to go to the Falcons at No. 8 earlier last week, tied with Georgia edge rusher Nolan Smith. Now Draft Kings has Robinson at +200 to go to the Dirty Birds at No. 8 heading into draft week. While Atlanta technically doesn’t need a running back with Cordarrelle Patterson and Tyler Allgeier, pounding the rock is every bit of Arthur Smith’s offensive identity.
While they could use a pass-rusher, another offensive lineman, a cornerback or even an overpriced quarterback, Atlanta is in an advantageous spot to take the best player available at No. 8. Robinson is a top-five talent in this draft, but his position group slightly dings his value. He should be coming off the board in the early teens, but No. 8 is not a gross reach for him in the slightest.
You can deny it all you want, but the Falcons did an absolutely phenomenal job in free agency. Now entering year three of the Smith/Terry Fontenot partnership in Flowery Branch, the Falcons were probably already a playoff contender. But with the potential draft-day addition of Robinson, the Dirty Birds can win the NFC South and host a home playoff game for the first time at The Benz.
Robinson is one of two guys the Falcons can add in the first round who will be met with approval.
Bijan Robinson would help make the Atlanta Falcons serious playoff contenders
You might ask yourself why adding a running back to a team that already has Allgeier and Patterson who wasn’t all that good to begin with now good enough to be top-seven in the NFC. Well, did you see what the Falcons did in free agency, because I sure as hell did! For starters, they added Jessie Bates III and Calais Campbell to their defense. Bates is in his prime. Campbell is elite!
Finally having precious financial capital to spend in free agency helped flip this Atlanta roster in a hurry. For the first time since Smith and Fontenot arrived in Flowery Branch, they have a team that can do more than just compete its tail off. Factor in the NFC South being horrific a season ago, and probably not all that much better in 2023, they can be three wins better to achieve a 10-7 record.
But why Robinson, though? What makes him so special?
Well, I think this is all about re-affirming a strong offensive identity. The Falcons love to run the football under Smith’s watch. He was a former guard who played at UNC. Atlanta may have skilled weapons in the passing game, namely wide receiver Drake London and tight end Kyle Pitts, but it starts and ends with pounding the rock. It is all about giving Desmond Ridder his best opportunity.
Like his predecessor Marcus Mariota, Ridder is mobile and is adept at running the quick-game offense. However, he is not inherently reckless with the football. Ridder was a huge reason why the Luke Fickell Cincinnati Bearcats won the Group of Five in back-to-back seasons, becoming the first non-Power Five team to make the College Football Playoff in its current four-team format.
His teammates love the guy and they believe in him. So adding a fellow college star who can make plays in space in and around the backfield, I think it will help the Falcons’ offense dictate terms even more. It will shorten the game, while simultaneously slowing it down. Ridder doesn’t need to throw the ball 35 times. In fact, have him pick and choose his spots will only serve him in year two.
Ultimately, Robinson at No. 8 will land favorably like Pitts did at No. 4 two years ago, and probably better than the London pick last spring. The other guy Atlanta could potentially take that would be a great culture fit would be Smith out of Georgia. However, him coming off the board at No. 8 is way too high. Smith can have a ton of success in Atlanta, but the Falcons must trade back for him.
Call me crazy, but adding Robinson would be like getting Warrick Dunn out of Florida State initially.